Join us now as we turn our gaze to the South Pacific and an ultra-rare shirt from last summer’s CONIFA World Cup held in London.
We were thrilled to receive this extremely rare shirt from the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, and to save you the trouble of reaching for your atlas, please allow us to refresh your geographical knowledge.
Not known for their footballing prowess, the group of islands that makes up Tuvalu covers just 26 square miles of Polynesian paradise halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
With a population approaching 11,000, Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth in 1978 and are members of the United Nations, making them excellent candidates for low scoring answers on Pointless.
This shirt carries the name and number 9 of all-time top scorer Alopua Petoa, and was worn at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup in London, as well as in their 6-1 friendly win over the Chagos Islands.
The shirt we feature here is a player issue shirt rather than match-worn, and just seventeen of these Tuvalu away tops were ever produced.
For the uninitiated, CONIFA are the football federation representing states, minorities, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA, and count Jersey, Cornwall, Yorkshire and the Isle of Man as members from the British Isles.
As well as Tuvalu, 16 teams competed in last summer’s tournament including sides from Tibet, Panjab and Northern Cyprus.
Unfortunately Tuvalu lost their three matches against the northern Italian region of Padania, the ethnic Hungarians of Székely Land in Romania, and Matabeleland from western Zimbabwe.
The eventual champions were Kárpátalja, a team representing yet more ethnic Hungarians, this time from the historic Carpathian Ruthenia region that spanned western Ukraine and parts of Poland and Slovakia.
So now you know.
Behind the shirt are STINGZ, a team of former international athletes, sports enthusiasts and professional designers based in the UK and the Far East who supply custom-designed professional sportswear for a range of sports including rugby, triathlon and basketball.
Every design produced by Ernie Stobbs and the team from STINGZ tells a story, and their niche is to deliver completely unique, one-off bespoke kits for their clients, as shown by these sunshine yellow shirts from the South Pacific.
Stobbs is a brand ambassador for the fashion retailer, Giordano (known as BSX in the UK) and that promotional partnership extends to many of the shirts designed and made by the manufacturer, including those for the Cascadia region from the Pacific North West of America and a stunning set of shirts for Cornwall.
STINGZ’ dream is to make kits for Premier League clubs and in our opinion, their product is as good if not better than many of the shirts you’ll see on Match of the Day.
We represent something when we choose to wear a football shirt, why should that be any different or less beautiful just because we might belong to a smaller community?
You can follow STINGZ on Twitter for many more examples of their eye-catching, custom-made, beautifully bespoke kits for communities and nations outside of the sporting world’s immediate attention.