From Left Field

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By The Staff


I know there are a lot of wannabe inventors out there who spend way too much free time hidden away in their garages or basements trying to come up with the latest and greatest invention that will set the world on its ear.

Not that I’m a big fan of soccer, but I recently saw a news report that highlighted the fact that a company in Japan recently developed and tested a machine that can kick a soccer ball in excess of 125 mph.

Petroleum giant BP Castrol unveiled the world’s first-ever engine-driven “free kick” machine in Tokyo and they hope to show it off at the World Cup in South Africa later this year.

The only question I have repeatedly running through my head is ‘Why?’

I can understand one of the world’s leading oil companies spending money to develop ways to produce more affordable or eco-friendly fuels, but I fail to comprehend the need for a mechanical steel leg that can kick a soccer ball. It’s not even something along the lines of a bionic leg that an amputee could wear and use to cheat in soccer games, just like corking your bat in baseball or a wide receiver using Stick-um to haul in a football reception. No, it’s a big bulky hunk of steel with a steel leg mounted to the side.

And why stop with just a hunk of scrap metal? Why not just blast the ball out of a howitzer? I bet that sucker would really travel then!

You know, just because you have the ability to build something, that doesn’t mean that you should. If this thing were used like other machines in sports, such as pitching or tennis machines, I could rationalize its existence. But who in their right mind is going to stand in front of a soccer goal and take shots from this thing? Now before you go throwing out names like Johnny Knoxville or Steve-O, let’s get any episode of Jackass out of our minds!

So there I was, watching the report on television as two guys in white coveralls and hard hats drove this contraption into the testing arena. Yes, they drove it! Apparently, this machine is a four-wheeler, also. Frankly, I think the obsession with Transformers has gone a little too far! Anyway, they drove the thing out onto the floor and then raised the clearance by using hydraulic lifts to make sure the steel soccer ball-kicking leg could get a clear swing.

The guys then placed a soccer ball on a plastic cone that served as a makeshift tee. Then this monstrosity of technology sent the ball rocketing toward a line-up of cardboard mock-ups of soccer players, while shearing off the leg of one unsuspecting “player.”

The report ended by saying that BP Castrol plans to demonstrate the machine at the upcoming World Cup, but because of its power, it won’t use it for soccer training.

Again, I have to ask, ‘Why?’