The standard for charity shirts is so high in 2021 that many designs released for a good cause can be considered alongside the very best kits from the professional game in terms of aesthetic. A new shirt from fictional team AKFC does exactly that, and the cause it’s supporting is worthy of your attention.
AKFC are a team set up by the charity Alive and Kicking, a group helping communities across Africa through the creation of ethical jobs and the provision of vital health education. Every football team needs a shirt, and AKFC’s latest threads have risen to the occasion in a big way.
The wonderful half and half look possesses shades of the legendary Denmark ‘86 shirt, one of the undisputed GOATS in the shirt game. The storied manufacturer hummel were responsible for that Denmark shirt, and sure enough they’ve produced this new AKFC kit too. Whether a coincidental similarity or a decided direction, I love the move. Various floral details throughout the shirt also remind me of the jackets from the Nigeria 2018 collection; a release which completely changed the game for modern football shirt collections.
Further cementing the Nigeria connection is Alex Iwobi. The Super Eagles star, who has been the face of his country’s recent kit releases, is proudly supporting the work of AKFC:
“I’m very happy to be part of AKFC and to continue to use football as a force for good!”
Rachael Yankey OBE, one of England greatest servant, is also backing the project:
“This team is all about using football as a force for good… anyone who has the passion to use football in that way can join AKFC. Hopefully I can inspire some others to come and sign with me”
It’s no surprise that the creative studio HeyBigMan! are behind the design of the shirt. If you’re not familiar with their name, you’ll most certainly be familiar with their work. HBM were part of the team that created the amazing Hackney Wick FC shirts, which won acclaim across the footballing world. Based on their latest handiwork and the Hackney kits, I’d be keen to see more of what the London studio can bring to the shirt table.
I haven’t even got to the best bit. Excitingly, the AKFC shirt is available in both physical and digital form! All proceeds from the physical sales (which can be purchased directly or as part of a regular donation) will go towards the work of Alive and Kicking, and you’ll also be able to highlight the campaign by wearing the kit in FIFA. A new Squad Building Challenge is now available, but don’t hang about as you have until the 14th March to complete the challenge and unlock the kit for good.
To find out more about the project and what sort of things we can expect from AKFC in future, I caught up with Eddie Taylor, Head of Development at Alive and Kicking.
Q: How did the project come about? Was this a spur of the moment thing, or something that developed over time?
We launched AKFC in 2019 as we wanted to create a community of regular giving supporters to help achieve our mission, so what better way of doing that than creating a team, albeit a fictional one! We wanted to capture the attention of the football fashion to amplify our cause and also create an identity and in turn a community. Also every team needs a shirt, right?
Our first two shirts were designed by Romance FC player and shirt designer Aimee Capstick and she smashed it. We had an amazing response and were featured in multiple magazines and Instagram accounts leading to a lot of interest and sign ups. For the next campaign we wanted to go large so called upon Football-for-good creative specialist HeyBigMan! and Mark and the team jumped at the opportunity to design the kit.
We wanted the kit to have an iconic brand behind it so we approached Hummel and they were really excited in producing it. We then contacted EA as we wanted to get the shirt featured in FIFA21. They said yes so we created the #AFRICA11 SBC so players could unlock the kit in game. And now the AKFC kit can be played in virtually by a global audience of 30 million gamers, which is insane!
Q: Could you tell us more about the shirts themselves. What was the inspiration behind the design?
This was all the magical work of Mark and the HeyBigMan! team. We loved their idea of having the kit inspired by Africa, so they ran with it and produced a kit inspired by the flora and fauna, which is stunning. I love the idea that a kit inspired by the natural world is all over the most digital world of all! There is something beautiful about that.
Q: Who are AKFC? Can we expect more AKFC kits in future?
AKFC is the fictional football team that supports and raises money for the charity Alive and Kicking. By becoming a member and through regular donations supporters play their part in the AK’s mission of using football as a force for good.
We release a kit every year/season, this one was delayed due to covid so we are hoping to fall in line with the football season again, so you might see another kit this year… we might have already designed it too!
Q: Tell us more about the integration with FIFA. How important was it for you to have the kits in the game?
Getting in FIFA 21 is a game changer, it has a massive audience and we are really grateful that EA gave us an opportunity. It’s great that they are thinking about their CSR impact and they understand that their platform can be used to promote good causes.
Q: Is there anything more you'd like to highlight about the campaign?
Nigeria and Everton star Alex Iwobi has joined AKFC and he will be chatting with his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha about his ultimate #AFRICA11 and Alex will also be taking on Tammy Abraham in a game of FIFA21, follow us to find out when!
If you are a FIFA player please unlock the ‘AKFC Kit’ in game by taking up our #AFRICA11 Squad Builder Challenge in the FIFA Ultimate Team mode. The challenge goes live at 6pm on the 4th March!
If you aren’t a FIFA player but love our shirt, please sign up to become a member of AKFC, that way you have the biggest impact.
It starts at £15 a month and for that you get the shirt, a ball, a key ring, a quarterly newsletter and most of all you will be helping communities across Africa, creating ethical jobs, delivering vital health education and enabling play, which is the biggest reward of all!
Thanks to Eddie for taking the time to share more of the AKFC story. If you’d like to add the new shirt to your collection, visit the AKFC site and donate. And to kit out your team in FIFA 21, check out the SBC that’s running from the 4th-14th March.
As Eddie said, you can also follow @WeAreAKFC to keep up to date with their new content as it drops!