This summer, I talked about the kits our competitive travel teams would be wearing this year:

We initially were looking at a striped kit to really stand out. However, a couple people were worried that if we went with, say, Black/Royal and White/Royal (the Yellow/Black didn’t appeal to most as an away jersey), a referee might not allow either against a team wearing solid royal. I didn’t think this likely, but they were nervous enough to go with a mostly solid kit. They chose the kit at the right from Joma.

It’s a nice kit. The picture doesn’t show it, but there is some additional alternate color design on the bottom of the sides (it’s tucked into the shorts in the picture). The yellow is also much more vibrant than it looks here. It’s almost neon, which is cool. Plus they were a great deal. Two jerseys, shorts, and socks for around $35 in quantity. Add in the lettering, logo, etc, it still is under $50/kit.

The only problem with the yellow one is you can see through it.

For the most part, it seemed like we’d made a decent choice. Now that we’ve gone through the Fall season, I figured I’d post an update.

The kits are a very nice design, with color accents on the sleeves, shirt tails, and short legs. But we quickly encountered numerous problems…

The first problem we had was with Eurosport, our supplier for these kits. Despite them just opening a massive new customization center and warehouse right here in our town, we were being told 6 weeks lead time when we placed our order despite assurances of 3-4 weeks when we first spoke with them. Yes, July and August are busy times for everyone, because that’s when everyone gets their equipment for the upcoming soccer season. With tryouts being held the end of May, getting acceptances from everyone, and getting firm sizing for all the players, it’s easily late June or early July when you are ready to place an order. With most teams playing in pre-season tournaments in mid August, timing is tight. Well, in order to get us our order on time, Eurosport told us the numbers on the back had to be in BLACK. Most of the time team’s will use white on the dark color and the dark uniform color (i.e. blue) on the light uniform. We got black on both the yellow and the blue uniforms. It looked horrible and you could barely see the number on the royal blue. I’m still not sure WHY it took longer to iron/screen on a blue or white number vs a black number, but that’s what we were told. So we got over it.

Like any program, you always have some kids who join teams late. We had a U18 girls team which saw a lot of roster churn in the summer, so some of their uniforms were ordered in early August. Little did we know that we would fall into a supplier nightmare. Between roster churn, customization mistakes, and uniforms that simply never arrived from the original order, we had a handful of additional uniforms we needed to get for players. Despite being told by our Eurosport rep that they’d have “plenty of stock” on hand for mid season changes, they had little to none. We had to wait months for missing socks. It took weeks to get uniforms that should have arrived in the initial shipment, but never did. Some uniforms ordered in mid August didn’t arrive until early November. We ordered soccer bags that came with soccer balls for all our players. We got the soccer bags in September, but the soccer balls didn’t arrive until November. Coaches jerseys ordered in late September arrived after our regular season had ended. We were told Joma was moving warehouses, uniforms were stuck in customs, orders were misplaced, and uniforms were said to have shipped and when we said they never arrived, we were told the shipments were returned to the warehouse, but the sales rep was never informed. We got told this three times, despite none of the shipments ever requiring a signature. We got told how Joma had experienced unexpected sales volume, etc. and couldn’t keep up with demand. We got told they had shutdown for two weeks after the August rush. Joma simply could not provide Eurosport with stock, yet we were given all sorts of excuses instead of being told ‘we simply can’t get them’. Fulfillment was a major issue and we felt like we were getting a constant runaround. Were were never updated on the status of any of our outstanding equipment by Eurosport unless we inquired ourselves.

In contrast, my Rec team placed an order for 10 Jogo uniforms in mid August from Totally Soccer and we got the uniforms, fully customized, three weeks after placing the order, on the exact date our vendor had quoted. It was a small order, but still. Our local sporting good store will often have a printer screening shirts at midnight to get some last minutes uniforms to our Rec teams the night before opening day. There’s something to be said going local since they are more apt to go the extra mile for you than a business that sells tens of millions of dollars in equipment each year. We order many of our Rec uniforms from Score Sports and often see uniforms delivered to our sporting goods store for customization in less than two weeks. But I digress.

When the bulk of the uniforms arrived, they still looked nice from the front and we handed them out to the kids, who were very excited as always. Then we started to get the complaints. Remember when I said ‘The only problem with the yellow one is you can see through it.’? The uniforms were made of a VERY thin material. They felt very cheap and flimsy, more so than the samples we had looked at before choosing this kit. This is good for ventilation in hot weather, but it also makes the uniforms more likely to suffer damage. The material snagged on just about anything. Worse, it snagged like pantyhose, leaving at best a long linear ‘bunch’ and at worse a long cut in the material. The uniform is actually made up of two layers of ultra thin material sandwiched together. My son’s uniform caught on the sleeve and the outer material separated along a 3″ line, leaving just the lower layer of material. Other kids have had both layers snag, leaving clean cuts in the material where the material came unraveled. The materials stain badly (these are kids remember) and it’s been tough to get even the simplest ‘clear’ stains (Gatorade, juice, soda, etc.) out. Each pair of shorts had ‘Joma’ ironed on the leg. Most have lost half those letters already. The only thing that seemed to hold up well were the socks (which you expect to snag and tear given the beating they’ll take against the shinguards). I expect we’ll have to replace at least 5 or 10 of our Challenge uniforms this Spring due to the problems with the material.

So in short, we’ll never purchase Joma uniforms or equipment again, and we’re not entirely sure we’ll deal with Eurosport for uniforms either. They simply took too long to get any type of customization and were not nearly as responsive as we had hoped when we ran into supplier problems. We got heavy duty adidas uniforms for our teams last year and should have stuck with them this year. I expect that’s the direction we’ll go again next year too. It may cost us about $25 more per player, but it’ll be well worth it given all the hassles we encountered.

Yes, this is just one league’s experience and your mileage may vary. But since I had noted what we chose this year, I figured I’d fill you all in on how it went. We’ll be working to improve our ordering process as well, to try and get it as early as possible, but we’ll definitely be looking for a smaller vendor that worries about our experience.