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NWSL Player Partners With Nike To Make A More Accessible Cleat

NWSL player Carson Pickett, who was born without a left forearm, partnered with Nike to create an accessible adaptive soccer cleat.

Nike’s Phantom GT Academy FlyEase cleat is both overwhelming and exciting for Orlando Pride defender Carson Pickett. She teamed up with Nike to help create it. 

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“Honestly, my first reaction when I saw the Phantom GT FlyEase was relief,” Pickett told Nike. “I thought about my younger self and what it would have meant for me if something like this existed when I was growing up. I feel like this boot represents me and anybody else who is unique. FlyEase is very easy for anybody to put on quickly, which I love”

Pickett, who was born without a left forearm, is an advocate for limb difference awareness. Though she does not let her disability define her, Pickett found her voice through professional soccer and now helps others with similar disabilities.

Her project with Nike resulted in a new cleat with greater accessibility. It features a fold-down heel and wrap-around velcro strap instead of laces. Pickett remembers feeling frustrated when trying to learn how to tie shoes as a child, and believes the new cleat will help many families and children who experience similar struggles.

“I saw my younger self,” she said in an interview with CBS Sports. “I looked at it and it almost brought me to tears because it’s just awesome to see something that would’ve really helped me when I was younger. I can imagine many kids, not only with one arm, but when they get this shoe and when they see it for the first time they will be so excited.”

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Nike’s Phantom GT is their first soccer cleat available in a FlyEase option, which Pickett says is a testament to the emphasis Nike puts on inclusivity. 

Not only is the Phantom GT FlyEase Nike’s most accessible cleat, the design of the shoe is driven by data collected from the Nike Sports Research Lab. For two years, the lab analyzed different angles upon which a soccer ball hits the foot and which textures would help support passes and movements. The Nike FlyKnit upper and Nike Hyperquick System combine to make the “most data-driven boot Nike has ever created,” according to their website.

In addition to Carson Pickett, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne sported a pair of Nike Air UNVRS with FlyEase technology. Drawing inspiration from her older sister Lizzie, who has a disability, Delle Donne told HypeBeast, “I wanted to show that a professional athlete can wear it. Male, female, adult, people with disabilities — this shoe is going to work.”

In 2019, Pickett went viral on Twitter for a picture capturing the moment she connected with a young fan without a forearm. She continues to inspire others with Phantom GT Academy FlyEase, though Pickett admits that advocating for limb difference awareness was not always her top priority. She was once fazed by constant media attention about her disability in college sports, but has since realized her larger purpose. 

“I can do so much more than just be a good soccer player, and that I could advocate for something much bigger than soccer,” Pickett told The18.

Photo Credit: Google Reuse, Instagram, Twitter