I had just arrived at Hotel Duo in Prague with my wife and our son to do a piece with some of the Australian players. We found a corner which we deemed acceptable as I saw a familiar face sitting in a sofa close by.
I told my wife that I was pretty sure that that was the gentleman who started Blindsave upon which she replied that I should go and talk to him since I’m here to report about products and I thought “yes ma’am you’re damn right I am” so I nipped over and introduced myself to Andis. He seemed genuinely interested to talk about everything there was to say about goalkeeping and I felt very comfortable in his presence so we chatted away for a while when I eventually remembered why I was there. I had to say my good byes earlier than I wanted so we decided to meet up later during the WFC 2018 for a proper interview which we managed right before the semifinal between Sweden and Switzerland.
Fast forward a few days and I’m finally sitting there with Andis, a role model for young goalkeepers all around the world who’s nothing but beaming of commitment to the cause. He’s such a fascinating man to be in the same room as and naturally his reflected his charisma so here goes our dear goalkeepers, the story behind Andis Blinds and Blindsave.
-When did you start Blindsave?
– What prompted you to start a brand just for goalkeepers?
-It’s actually a really nice story. I had huge problems with my knees and I had to quit for two years as a goalie. I started to play with ice hockey knee pads when I recovered but I didn’t find the plastic ones very comfortable. At the same time I didn’t like the ones that already existed because they were too soft and felt like volleyball pads so I jokingly said that I’ll just make my own pads. I had an idea in mind about changeable pads because they get worn out quickly so I got some fabrics together and created a few prototypes which I still have actually. They looked weird but they worked and I started to use them at practice.
As a superstitious goalkeeper, I decided to play with them in games too. I remember that it was the final game in the Latvian Championship that year and I just decided to use the prototype I had come up with and that game I got a clean sheet. Zero goals! So I took that as a sign that this is what I should be doing. It’s really an amazing story to me, and still until this day I’m the only one who’s kept a clean sheet in the Latvian Championship. I ended up giving a pair to our other national goalkeeper and he said ”wow, they’re amazing, I would love to buy them”. So I made a few more and then people started buying them and then step by step, I had started a company.
I felt that Blindsave was successful with the first products and they are still some of the best on the market but I wanted to expand, with a vest for example,but I thought ”I can’t just make another ordinary vest, I need a vest which helps me, not just for protection but with rebounds”.
We created this padding with some scientists but I remember being anxious at that moment because the vest felt stiffer and harder and back then everyone was used to a softer type of vest so I thought ”will they accept this?”
Patrik Åman came to one of my first goalie camps and he tried the vest and said that it was one of the best vests he’s played with. Now when I think about it, there aren’t too many goalies who don’t use our vest these days.
For instance, Finland’s goalkeeper Eero Kosonen has it but Czech’s Soucek doesn’t and they have a totally different rebound game. I notice these details but you know, it’s not always that you get the rebound to work in your favour but mostly!
So that was the vest and then it took off from there until where we are today with a full goalie line. I’m still full of ideas though, I’ve got something in mind for a pair of gloves which I’m sure will be a technique we’ll see in other brands in the future.