Wagin footballers’ woollen jumpers a nod to booming industry

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Wagin Football Club players Paul South, James Campbell, Mark Allington and Jake Putland show off the new jumpers.
Camera IconWagin Football Club players Paul South, James Campbell, Mark Allington and Jake Putland show off the new jumpers. Credit: Ian Munro

They are a far cry from the heavy, itchy footy jumpers of the past but in Wagin, at least, wool is back.

Home to a sky-high ram statue and WA’s biggest celebration of sheep, the State’s wool-producing heartland, 220km south-east of Perth, boasts an Australian-first football jumper made from a high-tech blend of wool and synthetic fibres.

Wagin Football Club back man Mark Allington said it was fitting the club was the first in the country to wear the new jumpers.

“A lot of us are wool producers, so it’s good to see the end product,” he said.

“They are a lot softer and lighter than the jumpers worn in the 80s and the synthetic ones we had before.”

Allington said the partnership with the nation’s peak wool body, Australian Wool Innovation, came about after he and fellow Icon Agriculture consultant Andrew Ritchie attended an industry meeting in Sydney.

After an AWI presentation about the Fibre of Football campaign — aimed at celebrating the rich heritage connecting the wool industry and Australian Rules — the pair asked whether their local football club could have a set of jumpers.

AWI and Wagin Football Club jointly funded the jumpers, which were made by JS Sports in South Australia.

Among the local farmers involved with the Wagin Football Club is new coach Paul Duffield, a former Fremantle Docker who played 171 games over 12 seasons in the AFL.

They are a lot softer and lighter than the jumpers worn in the 80s and the synthetic ones we had before.

Mark Allington

Duffield grew up in Darkan and spent his junior years playing football for the former West Arthur team before moving to Perth. He returned to the farm three years ago.

“For a lot of people in this area, producing wool is what we do,” he said. “To see our product come back to the club as something everyone is passionate about — football — is fantastic.

“I think it is also alluding to how superior wool is as a product. We are finding more out about this as we go.”

AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said the polyester-wool blend had proved to be lightweight and comfortable.

“Wagin is the first WA country footy team to wear these lighter, intimate blend jumpers,” he said.

“The next step is to get some meaningful feedback from the players about how the fabric performs and then to potentially offer it to other clubs nationally.

“The Wagin jumpers are lightweight wool and are relatively new technology. They are not 100 per cent heavy wool like the old days.”

A slightly heavier blend of fabric has also been tested by country football teams in Victoria, with a polyester exterior and woollen inner.

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