From the start our focus was on durability. Public football pitches in much of Africa are often not very well maintained. Shrubs and debris everywhere mean that soccer balls tend not to last long. One football-loving Sony employee picked up on this fact and was keen to devise a ball with a longer life for the children of Africa. That's what lies behind the fall 2008 launch of this project to develop a ball focusing on durability.
Things got going at the Core Device Development Group, the division responsible for developing new materials at Sony. Their main focus was to figure out what kind of materials would be best for surfacing the new soccer ball. Thanks to comparative tests they had carried out on the materials used for the bodies of Sony products like cameras and remote controls , they selected bio-based TPE (PEBA), a material that is both highly durable* and environmentally conscious. While this material is used in a range of sports products, this would be the first attempt to use it for a ball.
We didn't only test the ball's durability in a laboratory setting; but we also enlisted the help of the company football club JFL(Japan Football League), Sony Sendai F.C., getting the players to subject it to plenty of authentic hard testing at their training sessions to test its performance. Then, we got African youngsters to play with the ball at the public viewing venues in Ghana in June 2009. It was this testing on the rough terrain of Africa that helped fine-tune Sony's original "Join the Team!" ball to perfection.