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Eva Life of a TARMAK Product Engineer
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Eva: Life of a TARMAK Product Engineer.

Product engineer for Decathlon's signature basketball brand, TARMAK, Eva Marsac’s story began fairly normally. Encouraged by her best friend, she started to play basketball at the age of 8, in a small town in western France. After a few seasons, she decided to take it to the next level by joining the prestigious Limoges club to try out in the French second division, while pursuing physiotherapy studies. The season was a long one and her university plans were thrown into disarray. Nevertheless, Eva bounced back in a new club crowned as U19 vice-world champion with the French national team, then moved again to northern France where she played at a semi-professional level and studied textile engineering. This opened the door to Decathlon, where she now designs products lines for our basketball range.
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Hi Eva. Can you tell us a bit about your time at Decathlon?

I joined TARMAK in February 2018 for my study project. I was working as a textile product engineering intern, to redesign a model, and to incorporate 3D into the design process. Then I got a short term contract, and finally a permanent one as a textile engineer. I also had the chance to work on several basketball shoe models. I really loved this experience. This year, I’m changing my focus to design our Women and Junior shoe ranges.

Describe a typical day at TARMAK!

Generally, in the morning I talk to our suppliers. The products I’m working on are made abroad, in Dhaka (Bangladesh) - for the budget range, in Qingdao - for our t-shirts, and in Nanchong in China - for the advanced range. With the time difference, the morning’s the best opportunity to discuss things with these particular partners. I explain our needs, we look for ways we can mass produce our products and make them as high quality as possible. We then meet in a project group, with the designer, the model maker and the product manager. We take stock of the current projects, we test concept ideas, we debrief prototypes, and so on.

How do you test products you are developing?

We always have our products tested by basketball players from clubs in our area. Their level depends on the range of products we want to test: beginners, experienced or experts. We generally test competitive products as well as our concepts in playing conditions. This allows us to set our mind on one construction rather than another. As the project progresses, fittings are carried out to adjust the products and check that they fit different body types. When they are sufficiently developed, the latest versions are tested in real conditions to validate their design, and that we stand for everything we claim. It’s really interesting: it’s the point at which we see if we’ve got it right, or if we still need to tweak a few things. I talk a lot with the teams responsible for developing our components to anticipate our future needs, and I liaise with the research and development teams who work on the human body, particularly Sports Lab (Decathlon),which boasts dozens of engineers and specialists in situ. I learn a lot from this research: this generates information that we use to guide our design of the finished product.

You were world U19 vice-champion with France. What has this experience given you in terms of your day to day life?

Only positives! It was an incredible experience and I was very proud to represent France! But above all, it was a long road to get there, that's what I remember and what benefits me the most on a daily basis. Work, willpower, pleasure, the importance of being supported by the right people. It’s also meeting people with positive values, and personalities that have made an impression on me and continue to inspire me now in my daily life.

Which TARMAK product are you the proudest of?

I’m super proud of our new women’s kits, which are coming out in January 2022. Firstly, because it’s something for women, and that means a lot to me. Secondly, because it’s a project we’ve worked on intensely. We spent a long time working on the planning stage with an external company, Proofmakers, and a women’s basketball club, Carvin, so we could assess needs and grasp certain behaviours in minute detail. We wanted a proactive design, so we tried to design this range for women and their specific issues. We also incorporated an eco-design element by looking at our component choice. This is one of TARMAK’s first textile models to be designed in this way. I can’t wait to be able to play using these products and see them hit the shelves!

You recently gave 3x3 a try. Are there any major differences compared to 5X5 or streetball?

The principle of 3x3 is the same as 5x5, just putting the ball in the hoop. The rhythm is completely different though, it's fast-paced, and very intense with little downtime. You have to move very quickly from one move to another.

The atmosphere is also different. In general the tournaments take place outdoors, in the summer... It's friendly and accessible; there is a real mix of players from different backgrounds and levels.

As a player, I find that both formats are very complementary and each brings something to the game.

Can you see any areas that could be adapted to suit these particular formats?

Yes, but shhhh! 3x3 is on the up - we’re definitely thinking about it!