Soccer is a huge sport among kids. Yet there are concerns about injuries, especially when players strike the ball with their heads. Some worried coaches and parents have called for a ban on "headers" for players under a certain age.
But there may be another option: a ball that is smaller and softer. It's called the Eir ball--pronounced like "air"--and it's produced by a company based in Denmark.
Majken Gilmartin, the founder of the company, said she came up with the idea when she was coaching a youth girls team and noticed her players straining with the size and weight of the ball.
"I was coaching them during the age when they were going from the young ball to the [size] five, the men's ball," said Gilmartin. "When you're in that process, you realize that it really slows down the game and it really adds to injuries."
The Eir ball weighs 13 ounces and measures 26.4 inches in circumference, according to Eir's website.
Though more studies need to be done to understand the effect of ball density and size on young players, the acceleration that's required by women to head a standard ball is above the level where concussions occur, said Gilmartin.
But what about the concern that having women use a different kind of soccer ball will lead to more stigmatization for women players, who already face obstacles in male-dominated sports?
"I think it's a different fight now," said Gilmartin. "Equal rights is actually having the equipment that fits you. Equal rights is not playing with the same ball."