Footballs made in Pakistan

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lorenzo bernardi

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Football (soccer) News
  • Footballs made in Pakistan

Footballs made in Pakistan

The city of Sialkot,Pakistan,is  famous for its sports goods manufacturing facilities.It produces over  62 million hand-stitched footballs this year alone.This is a World Cup year,so sales ranked-up and business is booming in this relatively small city.In a country,where cricket is the most popular sport,football is finally catching-up.In metropolitan cities like Lahore,Karachi and Islamabad it is easier to find football academies, where six to twelve-years-olds  practice regularly.The youth is glued to television as Premier League and other Leagues are televised Live and there is a passionate fan following of European clubs.

In one of the houses in Daska,a town on out-skirts of Sialkot,Omer is sitting on a short-legged chair along with a dozen other men.The television is broadcasting football match but he is to busy in his work.He has taken off his sandals and put them next to his chair.In July,it’s hot outside with no electricity supply. Omer is a strong, twenty-year-old boy.He has been working for this independent stitching factory,ABC,for two years.It produces handmade footballs and all are exported, from Europe to Far-east.The demand from locals is negligible.

The local Sports company is the leading manufacturer of handmade footballs in Sialkot.It has outsourced to more than 100 stitching centers like ABC.It sells the footballs to German sports company Adidas,for between €5 and €10 per ball.No one here wants to state the exact price.Adidas has supply contracts with other companies in and around Sialkot,in addition to local Sports company. There is a quality assurance team which oversees any short-comings.There is a stock of white footballs piled up in the room next door.The material used per ball includes patches of synthetic leather plus the bladder and thread.The material is supplied by the local company,Sports.Every evening a truck comes to collect the finished balls which are packed,labeled and shipped out.

The people of this town are prosperous.On average the people of Sialkot earn €1,000 euros ($1,370) a year,twice the national average,thanks to the sports goods industry.The streets are better and the cars are newer than  the other regions of Pakistan.Sialkot has profited from globalization.

It's a long route from the stitching rooms of Sialkot to the professional football pitches of Europe and America.First you get the sub-subcontractors - the stitching centers,the backroom workshops, the one-man businesses.Add to that the subcontractors,the transport firms, the customs offices,the sports equipment giants,the advertising industry, the sports good retailers and the department stores.The chain converts a sixty three -rupee ball into a product costing more than €100. Everyone wants a cut.And someone has to come up with the millions of euros for the football stars,the expensive advertising icons of the sports brands.

Demand for footballs is enormous, especially in years when there's a World Cup. This was a bumper year in terms of sales as all records are broken.Couple of years back,Sialkot opened a modern airport from its own funds to allow the executives from leading brands like Adidas,Nike,Puma and Co to fly straight to city and to receive particularly urgent supplies by air.This has expedited the transportation to and from the city.

Recently, however, hardly any Western executives have dared to travel to Pakistan. Even though there haven't been any terrorist attacks in Sialkot, The foreigners are too sacred to come here.Sports giants are so afraid of terrorism that they have not even built up a distribution network in the country, even though most of their products are manufactured here.Pakistani businessmen have trouble getting visas for the United States or for Europe.But business is still booming.

 

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