This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Sam Davy of PARK Social Soccer Co.

Studio Visit

MAN WEEK continues this morning with an introduction to visionary graphic designer and social entrepreneur Sam Davy, the ‘Chief Ball Officer’ at PARK Social Soccer Co.

Together with Tara Montoneri, Sam founded his one-for-one socially conscious soccer brand in late 2015, inspired by his son, and none other than Steve Jobs!

We stopped by Sam’s Elwood home studio to hear more about this incredible passion project!

31st August, 2017

Sam Davy co-founded the socially conscious soccer brand PARK Social Soccer Co. in late 2015. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Prior to this, the British expat worked at Apple, Crumpler and Tennis Australia. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

PARK’s HQ works is Sam’s home studio in Elwood, Melbourne. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The graphic design create all the artwork on the balls, though has some exciting collaborations in the works. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

An inspiration board including photographs of orphaned kids at a children’s home in Uganda, street kids in Sierra Leone and  local team from PARK’s first giving trip to a Lombok area with a ramshackle pitch. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The graphic design creates the artwork for the balls. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘We are bringing soul and meaning to the design of the ball, and kids themselves are really connecting with the ball and the story,’ explains Sam. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The Chief Ball Officer is working on new collections and expanding the product range to include apparel and one-for-one goal keeper gloves (prototype seen here created with with a local glove brand Unbranded, and slated for early 2018). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Orange soccer balls are from PARK’s season 1 collection, custom pink flower ‘peace ball’ and bespoke gift for the Garma Festival. The balls are manufactured by a partner in China, who Sam is grateful to for taking the chance on his small brand with its atypical idea! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Though he was aware of other inspiring one-for-one initiatives like TOM’s shoes and Thankyou, Sam was really driven by trying to combine the skills, ideas and passions he’d picked up over the years into something that could have a lasting, positive impact. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 31st August 2017

‘…a brand that competes on quality and design and helps our kids understand the imbalance of opportunity, whilst helping those kids that really need it,’ – Sam Davy.

‘Ten years ago while I was working as Creative Director at Apple, Steve Jobs called me into a meeting and asked me to explore how Apple, “can do well by doing good”,’ begins Sam Davy. ‘This was the first time I’d contemplated the idea of connecting social awareness with the bottom line. I was fascinated!’

Originally from Yorkshire in the UK, Sam lived in London and San Francisco before making Melbourne his home in 2008. Over the years he worked as Brand Director at Crumpler and Director of Tennis at Tennis Australia, but always kept coming back to that idea that Steve Jobs had planted in his mind.

By October 2015, Sam had ‘eventually connected the dots’, co-founding the socially conscious PARK Social Soccer Co. ‘My son and I were standing, staring blankly at a sea of bland soccer balls in a sports store, looking for a gift for his friend, when he said, “These balls don’t mean anything, my mate’s not into all these global players or teams”,’ recalls Sam. He was struck by the fact that the humble soccer ball appeared to have been hijacked by global brands and turned into meaningless merch.

Later that day as the 41-year-old was looking out into his own backyard dotted with discarded balls, it really hit home that there are kids all over the world who love soccer, but who don’t have the opportunities to play. ‘The idea was born to start a brand that competes on quality and design, and helps our kids understand the imbalance of opportunity, whilst helping those kids that really need it,’ Sam explains.

Through it’s one-sale-for-one-donation model, PARK has currently passed 1,270 balls to disadvantaged children via grassroots charities, individuals and organisations, including Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Creating Chances in Sydney, The Dreams Alive Foundation in Kenya, Streetsoccer USA, and international initiatives Their Beautiful Game and Orphfund.org. ‘Our partners use the balls in a number of different ways, but all are focussed on using soccer to reach kids and youth, keep them focussed in a positive direction, help teach them life and leadership skills to overcome the everyday hurdles they face,’ says Sam. ‘We focus on supporting refugees and people seeking asylum, equal opportunities for girls (check-out Equal Playing Field), at-risk youth, and abandoned children.’

Breaking into a traditional sporting goods market dominated by the big global brands has been tricky, as has changing peoples’ perceptions of what a soccer ball is and what it can do. The graphic designer currently creates all the artwork for the balls in his home studio in Elwood, and there are some exciting collaborations with amazing artists in the pipeline. For creatives wanting to launch a passion project or social enterprise, Sam advises keeping your idea quite fluid in the early stages, getting lots of advice from those who are doing similar work, but also talking with people from seemingly unrelated fields, as a ‘wild card element’.

Thinking back on the impact this initiative has made, a young boy called John, living in an Orphfund.org supported children’s home in rural Uganda often comes to Sam’s mind. Passionate about the sport, John would try to make ‘soccer balls’ from discarded plastic bags. ‘John arrived at the home with only a small amount of belongings, so when he was given his own new, real soccer ball, it became his prized possession. He is now doing really well at school and is playing soccer in the local team,’ tells Sam. ‘For him to know that a kid on the other side of the world thought about him, and passed him a ball, is a beautiful thing!’

You can support PARK Social Soccer Co. by buying balls from their online store, here, or from the awesome stockists listed on their website. And in case you were wondering, Sam verifies that the positive vibes from a PARK ball WILL inspire you to play your best game!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Dream Job

Nayran Tabiei · Cooking Instructor, Free to Feed

In between guiding a group of receptive young participants through the art of tabouli-tiny parsley chopping, the former Damascene chronicles...
Elle Murrell

Shopping

KIOSK by Georgia Perry

A look inside the illustrator and designer's new Collingwood store, stocking accessories, homewares, stationery and gifts by indie designers...

Studio Visit

Matt and Sahr Willis of yelldesign

An insight into the Melbourne content studio's brilliantly quirky and meticulously crafted output – including their incredible 'Papermeal'...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Art

A New Direction For A Much-Loved Landscape Painter

Belynda Henry’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Reflections’, is a bold new collection of oil-on-canvas landscapes.
Elle Murrell

Travel

A Micro Hotel Room Inside An Upcycled Shipping Container

A pop-up hotel on a tiny footprint, touring Victorian wineries the autumn!

Studio Visit

The Self-Taught Painter Inspired By His Ethiopian Heritage

We visit Afro-Norwegian artist Olana Janfa in his Thornbury garden-shed studio, who paints to connect with his history and culture.
Sally Tabart
  15 hours ago

News

Thomas Coward And Fiona Lynch Bring A Greek Marble Quarry To Collingwood

An exhibition that honours the ancient materials used in Artedomus’ ground-breaking furniture collection, New Volumes.
Sally Tabart

Architecture

Making Mid-Century Modern Again

The rejuvenated 'Fig Tree Pocket' 60’s House by Bligh Graham Architects, in Brisbane.
Lucy Feagins
  5 hours ago

News

Coco Flip’s New Collection Is A Celebration Of Australian Craftsmanship

Combining timber, glass, and ceramics, Honey is a collaborative feat!

News

Don't Miss The 'My General Store' Pop-Up This Weekend

Melbournians, you’ve got one day only to have an IRL try on of these Australian made designs in natural fabrics.
Miriam McGarry

Interior Design

The Stella Collective's Award-Winning Interiors, From Palestine to Brisbane

Meet Hana Hakim the founder of a Melbourne interior design studio creating WOW-factor projects, both here and abroad.
Elle Murrell

Food

Ella Mittas' Zesty Potato Salad With Pesto

Ella Mittas' Greek-inspired potato salad, with zesty lemon, roast almonds and a flavour-packed fresh pesto.
Ella Mittas
  7 hours ago

Art

5 Standout Installations At Melbourne's Newest Gallery

Corbett Lyon guides us though Lyon Housemuseum Galleries' inaugural exhibition, unveiling new works by Australia's contemporary art trailbla...
Elle Murrell

News

A Rare Insight Into The Life Of Design Legend Dieter Rams

ACMI presents the Australian premiere of Rams, a documentary about one of the modern world’s most important design icons.
Sally Tabart
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Home In Three (Tiny) Parts

Atelier Chen Hung blasts open the idea of micro-living, with a literal hole in the middle of this tiny home!
Miriam McGarry

Architecture

A Bright, Breezy Addition Tucked Into A Beloved Home

The Annexe House by Bent Architecture in Pascoe Vale South, inspired by good old fashioned caravan holidays!
Miriam McGarry

Lighting

A Leading Lighting Designer Transforms An Underground Carpark

British product designer Lee Broom creates a breathtaking installation in the carpark of Space Furniture in Sydney – and it’s only open

Get A Good Night's Sleep, With These Top 10 Bed Linen Brands

Celebrating World Sleep Day (today!) with top tips for a good night's sleep, from ten of the best bed linen brands.

Similar Stories

Dream Job

Nayran Tabiei · Cooking Instructor, Free to Feed

The former Damascene chronicles her long and winding journey to a safe and purposeful present.
Elle Murrell

Shopping

KIOSK by Georgia Perry

A look inside the illustrator and designer's new Collingwood store, stocking accessories, homewares, stationery and gifts by indie designers...

Studio Visit

Matt and Sahr Willis of yelldesign

An insight into the Melbourne content studio's brilliantly quirky and meticulously crafted output – including their incredible 'Papermeal'...
Elle Murrell