Pak Balls Reign Over FIFA Grounds
Pak is 159 on world football playing nations ranking.
Pakistan is no footballer’s paradise. The country ranks 159 on the World Soccer Playing Nations’ ranking. Going by this, it is not likely to be a participant among the FIFA nations competing for the world title even in the distant future. Yet it is the footballs made in Pakistan that dominate the FIFA grounds.
Sialkot, the city where poet Muhammad Iqbal was born, is the global hub for manufacturing footballs. The city exports 30 million balls a year. That is 70% of the global output of hand-stitched balls. All leading world retailers of the football source their supplies from Sialkot. The Adidas group also used to get its world cup balls from Pakistan. So also Nike Inc which is soccer ball supplier to Britain’s Premier League.
However, Pakistani balls are facing stiff competition from “Jabulani” World Cup balls made in China. German’s Adidas Group has given a Sialkot company the contract to produce the entire range of hand-stitched replicas of “Jabulani” soccer ball that is being used at the FIFA World Cup 2014 this year.
Sialkot produced balls used to have 32 panels which were hand-stitched. But Jabulani of China introduced balls made by thermally joining eight panels. The Jabulani balls sell for $150 while hand-stitched balls for as less as $25. FIFA World Cup switched over to thermally bonded balls in 2006. Thus major chunk of supplies came from China. But Adidas has given the contract to Sialkot’s Forward Sports Company to produce the balls for the FIFA World Cup now on in Brazil. Sialkot producers have come together to produce the thermally bonded footballs and reclaim their turf.
The Sialkot’s football industry employs nearly 70,000 workers, mainly women who stitch footballs in their homes in surrounding villages. These earn the city one-fifth of its $1.25 billion export earnings. Another large slice is earned by the city’s firms manufacturing medical instruments. The city also has the industry making items for cricket and hockey.
A Sialkot worker can stitch six balls a day while a machine in China produces 36 balls in the same timeframe. Forward Group is the leading manufacturer of footballs in Sialkot. They have brought in several machines to introduce automation in manufacturing of footballs. The manufacturers are now setting up a research centre to develop their own version of the replica of the Jabulani soccer balls.
(Source: Information extracted from the Internet)