How Do Pakistan's Footballs Go Flying in the FIFA Tournaments?



FIFA is the prestigious and globally renowned football tournament that has a worldwide fan base regardless of the teams playing in the event. Each player, with their unique skills, make the game an enjoyable, fierce and worthwhile watching experience for the audience. One of those ways of witnessing their skill is the way how the football is sent flying around at a godspeed frequency, blasting off at the powerful kick that every player packs in. It is for this withstanding ability the footballs are manufactured and Pakistan is the destination where most of the world’s footballs come from. Although the country is not participating in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it has made its presence with the footballs it has manufactured by the famous Adidas Company that’s into making sports goods.

How did Pakistan become the place of manufacturing most of the world’s footballs? To find that, a short rewind into the past is required, about how the manufacturing of the football industry took birth.

The Story Goes

During the reign of the British, many Bristishers often played football and they would order football supplies from British manufacturers, who would take about two days to deliver the footballs by ferry.

One day, a British officer asked a Sialkot-based saddle maker, who made saddles for his horses, to repair his saddle. Upon looking at the saddle-maker’s excellent craftsmanship, the officer sprung on the idea of asking the saddle-maker to make footballs and placed an order of a dozen footballs. This is how the football manufacturing industry began and flourished throughout the world, with Pakistan becoming a globally reliable manufacturer, as it met the FIFA standards. Additionally, Pakistan’s footballs are largely preferred as those footballs are way out of any country’s league.

An Accurate and Flight Stability Football

A FIFA website claims that the Al Rihla football flies quicker than any other in the history of the competition. Its striking and colorful design is influenced by Qatar's culture, architecture, famous boats, and flag. Adidas is once again bringing its athletic prowess to the game's grand finale by offering a match ball with a modern appearance that also offers accuracy and flight stability. It is made exclusively with water-based inks and glues for long-term sustainability and is suited for fast-paced gaming.

The ball's core, or heart, offers precision and consistency for quick action and optimum rebound accuracy. The greatest footballs should bounce back at a rate of roughly 60 percent. In other words, if you throw the ball at the ground from a height of roughly one meter (100 centimeters), it will land. It ought to bounce back up to 60 centimeters, which is not too less and not too much. The Al Rihla balls satisfy these requirements. A unique 20-piece panel shape on the ball's shell enhances accuracy, flight stability, and swerve.


The Maker Behind the Footballs

From a company named Forward Sports, the balls are made in Pakistan. It's not the first time this company has produced footballs for FIFA. It has been manufactured for many previous World Cups and other significant competitions as well. This company also produced the Telstar ball used at the 2018 World Cup and the Brazuca ball used at the 2014 World Cup. But there must be a change from the prior instance each time. The pace of the game is picking up, and each time, the teams want better balls.

For international brands like Adidas, the company produces 750,000 balls each month. It was established by Khawaja Masood Akhtar in 1991, and it began collaborating with Adidas in 1994. Since then, it has made balls for a variety of international competitions. It makes medical balls, beach balls, handballs, shin guards, goalkeeper gloves, and footballs.

Pakistan’s Biggest Football Maker

With 3,000 employees, including 900 women, it is currently Pakistan's largest maker of football. Its success has forced out the Chinese firms who were previously producing footballs and exporting them to countries all over the world. Khawaja Masood Akhtar, the founder of Forward Sports Sialkot, received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz award from the Pakistani government in 2019. The company's senior executives maintain a careful eye on the manufacturing process and make sure that the footballs always adhere to the exacting FIFA standards.

The Manufacturing Process

A machine prepares sheets of heated rubber to begin the production process. After that, they were sliced into circular shapes that outlined the football's bladder or inner lining. To harden the rubber, these bladders are inflated and left in place for a short while. Workers shaped the patches for the balls' exteriors. Earlier, leather was utilized to create the exterior surface; however, because leather absorbs water, factories now use synthetic materials. Twenty hexagons and twelve pentagons, assembled in various ways, make up each ball. The higher-end balls are created using a thermo-bonding method, whereas the training and lower-end balls are made by machine stitching.

An updated version of the Adidas Tango Ball was produced in Pakistan for the 1982 World Cup. The Adidas Tango Ball was first used for the FIFA Football World Cup in 1978. The leather ball used in the 1982 World Cup was updated, and for the first time, rubber was inlaid over the seams to stop water from seeping in. As a result, water-resistant balls were used for the first time in a World Cup.

This was essential since water seeping through the seams would make the ball heavier. However, regular kicking would cause the rubber used to block water entry to wear out, necessitating replacement during the course of the game. It was the final World Cup football made of real leather.

For a country that is 164th in FIFA ranking, getting the contract to make the official football for the FIFA Football World Cup 2014, beating manufacturing giant China, Pakistan finally has something to show off in sports this summer. Over 42 million soccer balls have been exported from Sialkot so far ahead of the FIFA Football World Cup 2014!

Current Issue