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My eight year old son is a fairly active little boy and prefers playing outside and having a kick about to being cooped up indoors, weather permitting. A decent pair of trainers is a must and I always stick with Clarks 'CICA' branded trainers, rather than considering more trendy brand names, because I have more confidence in the fit and support offered by Clarks trainers.
He's owned this particular pair of Cica Centerline trainers since last Summer and they have seen considerable use, remaining watertight and intact despite some fairly rough treatment. There is very little sign of any wear and tear on either the soles or the upper shoe. There is one pretty clear indication that these have been well worn though, as these were originally an extremely brilliant shade of white, with a few 'trendy' splashes of silver, and they are now at best a very sorry looking mucky grey! Admittedly, these are not the most practical of colours for boy's outdoor wear but I do find the choice in Clarks can be a bit limited when it comes to trainers and we went with this pair for the fit, rather than the colour scheme!
This particular pair are available in both infant and junior sizes and in a range of half sizes. Unfortunately, these only come in either a fairly average F or G fitting. My son has very slim feet so, by rights, should take an E fit but there are very few (if any) Clarks trainers available in an E fit - certainly none in our local store. These trainers were recommended by the shoe fitters at Clarks because of their elasticated middle section, rather than some other styles that my son tried but found to be far too loose around the sides. The elastic helps to draw the trainer in slightly across his foot and helps to ensure that that they remain securely and comfortably attached. Even so, my son still needs to wear an insole with this pair, to compensate for the slightly larger width. Fortunately, Clarks will provide the insoles free of charge with any pair purchased in store, if they are deemed necessary for a comfortable fit.
These are secured in position by a single velcro strap across the top. Considering the age range that these trainers cover, I do think velcro is a very practical type of fastening. My son can easily slip these on and off in seconds whenever he has a friend around or somewhere to go in a hurry! As he is getting older, though, I would like him to feel more confident about tying shoe laces independently, especially as he has been struggling with his new lace-up football boots at school. I suspect he will be moving on to lace ups for his next pair of trainers, which should develop his confidence at tying them.
For the time being, these trainers are serving him well despite looking a little worse for wear in terms of colour! It is possible to buy different protectors from Clarks, specially for the soft leather on the exterior of these trainers but I suspect I would be on a losing battle with those. These are comfortable to wear and have never rubbed or caused any irritation no matter what sport or activity he's been involved in. They are also fairly flexible with no sign of the exterior cracking in any places, as I've experienced with other varieties of Cica trainers. The trainers also appear to have a good layer of padding around the heel area and under the tongue which should help to avoid rubbing and discomfort, as well as providing a bit of additional warmth. My son has worn these in all weathers, including snow, and actually prefers wearing them to his wellies, which he bitterly complains about as they are too cold! He's never seen the need to complain about being cold in his trainers, which seems a strong endorsement.
In all, I'm happy to recommend these Centerline trainers to any parents of active boys. They cost between £26-£28 per pair and are available from Clarks stores nationwide as well as being available to order online for fitting instore.