Balls and bladders

Within the Animal Kingdom we find chimpanzees, our close cousin, collecting and throwing rocks at trees, for reasons that are not yet fully understood. Evolution has brought about a capacity for ‘play’ in many young mammals as they learn to cooperate, communicate and socialise.

A play-ball of leaves tied with vines. Or a feather or moss-stuffed animal skin ball, began journeys now lost in the mists of time. Old accounts from China hint at a Football game of some kind over 5000 years ago. While over 2000 years ago, informal and organised ball games using hands and feet and with rules become better recorded.

It is said that there is something ‘magical’ about the pressurised ‘air’ or ‘folis’ ball as it was know in ancient Rome. We will never know who first filled a pig or cow bladder with air but its remarkable properties of strength and elasticity turned lifeless leather into a dynamic bouncing phenomenon. And changes and refinements over the last 200 years or so, particularly, have played a role in the development and divergence of the different games that are called Football today.