In October we traveled to Holland to cover the helmets of the Dutch National team, so that they would look the part for their crunch European qualification match again the Belgium Barbarians.
Arriving two days before the big match at the Mandemakers stadium in Waalwijk, we went straight to work wrapping the helmets for the Netherlands Senior International side - all 46 of them, while the team’s coaches and equipment managers Dave and Claudio, along with numerous volunteers prepped the stadium for the big game.
The players had stripped their helmets down as much as they could, removing padding, screws, face cages and clips, so that we could streamline the process as much as possible - any parts left on the lid slow the application and increases costs to the team as it requires detailed work to cut or fit the vinyl around them, and with a team order time is always of the essence.
After two - very long - days, the helmets were finally wrapped, and put back together…
...and we celebrated our hard work with a well earned drink!
By mid-afternoon on Saturday, everything was set for the game. The event kicked off with a pre-party outside the stadium, complete with a live band, merchandise stalls and pop up bar shaped like a beer can!
We cornered a small stand so that we could show the fans some of our handiwork, showcasing the variety of colours and finishes and demonstrating the durability of the material, as it’s one of the first questions we’re always asked.
Come 4pm the show started, and the it was clear how much work the organisers had put in; after a female dance troupe opened the game, and the cheerleaders rode in on the back of Harley Davidson’s before demonstrating their cheer skills, the teams ran on to the field. The Lions, as the home team, come on after the Barbarians, appearing out of the mouth of a 75ft inflatable lion to smoke, music and a whole lot of cheering!
Matt says, “It was such an incredible weekend. It was great to see what an incredible show the organisers put on, and I was so impressed with Dave and Claudio's vision and seeing the team run out in shining matching lids under the floodlights was just a great feeling.
“The game itself was a close affair, with some great play on show from both sides but we were pleased that the Lions secured a win, which will see them progress to the European Championships next year. We’re hoping that once again, GDS will be front row, supporting!”
We collared some of the players for their thoughts on their shiny newly-wrapped lids;
Kevin Bourne, Defensive Captain of the Dutch Lions:
Firstly, I want to thank you and your crew for setting up our helmets, it is a great product, and the quality and design is great too. You will have my recommendation going forward!
Jeffery Juulink, Starting DB:
“First of all the team loved the skinz; everybody went crazy when Coach revealed the helmets. This was the first time that we were dressed as an actual unit, before the skinz we had everybody wearing their helmets from different teams but now for once we were one team, and everybody was proud and honoured to play for their country and represent The Lions. The quality is very nice too; I still have it on my helmet as we speak - I’ve made some great contact and it still looks great.
Joey Craan, Quarterback:
The shells looked and are still looking great. The wraps are perfect and make them look like a new helmet!
It was great to see the team as one big unit with all the same shells - that really was the icing on the cake for the uniform.
In the time given GDS did an excellent job, the first reaction of the team was ‘stunning’!