World Cup 2010: Sialkot exported 8.825 million footballs so far
SIALKOT (June 17 2010): Over 8.825 million footballs amounting to Rs 2171.78 million have been exported on the eve of the FIFA Football World Cup 2010 being played in South Africa from Sialkot dry port so far. Sources in Sialkot dry port told Business Recorder that adequate arrangements have been made for the prompt clearance of exportable consignments at the dry port to facilitate business community and timely delivery.
Sialkot is the only city of Pakistan where 99 percent products are exported to various countries of the world. Sialkot based small and medium industries are earning foreign exchange of over US one billion dollars annually through exports and strengthening the national economy.
Sialkot made footballs, field hockey sticks and cricket gear are used in international games including the Olympics and World Cups. According to Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) around 85 soccer ball manufacturers have got membership of Child Labour Elimination Programme (CLEP).
The CLEP has been introduced in collaboration with SCCI, ILO, UNICEF, WFSGI, FIFA, US DOL and local NGOs etc to eliminate child labour from soccer ball industry of Sialkot. The stitching centres of CLEP members were being monitored by Independent Monitoring Association for Child Labour (IMAC). It was the only project of its type in the world in which the industry has participated voluntarily to eradicate child labour.
The programme has been recognised as role model, which has confirmed by former US President, Bill Clinton while addressing ILO convention at Geneva in 1999 mentioning that the programme as a role model project for other countries. The stitching of soccer balls started in Sialkot during 20th century with supplies sent to the Britain but after Pakistan's independence the industry grew stronger, making the world recognise the formidable position of the city vis-à-vis its favourite sports.
Today, almost all international buyers rush to Sialkot to secure their supply chains, building strong and long term business relations with local exporters. In the 1980 Sialkot gained international celebrity status when it produced the "Tango" ball used in FIFA Cup world Cup in 1982 which led further growth of soccer ball industry. The success story of Sialkot based industries is based on the unmatched skill and craftsmanship of local workers. All International brands Adidas, Nike, Puma, Select, Lotto, Umbro, Mitre, Micassa, Diadora, Wilsons and Decathion are sourcing their supply of footballs from this export-oriented city and hub of cottage industry in the country while importing countries are Germany, USA, UK, Czech Republic, Brazil, Peru and Turkey.
During last soccer ball world cup, the soccer ball industry was shocked when mechanised ball was used in world cup matches. Under the directives of the federal government a project of "Sports Industries Development Centre" (SIDC) has been initiated costing more than Rs 4.35 million and hopefully it would be operational in June next year.
The concept of setting up of SIDC was to modernise soccer ball industry and to resolve problems being confronted by the industry. Its purpose was to overhaul the sports goods industry on modern production lines, especially technology of mechanised ball that was threatening the hand-stitched soccer ball. Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) had formulated a strategy for the sports goods industry which aims to enable it to effectively cope with the threats of mechanised "Thermo Molded" ball.
This ball was tested and played in a number of international football matches including UEFA EURO 2004 and FIFA World Cup 2006. The sports goods industry was facing serious threat in the form of thermo molded ball that use medium technology to produce a ball having most of characteristics of the hand-stitched ball.
Meanwhile, former President Khawaja Zaka-ud-Din underscored the need of early completion of SIDC to facilitate the business community of Sialkot. He foresees that functioning of SIDC would be helpful in reducing the problems of sports goods industry and supportive in bringing boom in export volume.