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Footballs exports witness 17.22pc increase

Footballs exports witness 17.22pc increase


Web Desk
December 05, 2021

Football exports during the first four months of fiscal year of 2021-22 grew up by 17.22 per cent as compared to the exports of the corresponding period of last year.

During the period from July-Oct 2021, Footballs worth US$ 50,148 exported as compared to exports worth US$ 42,780 during same period of last year.

According to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of Sports Goods increased by 20.73 percent, worth of US$ 105,120 were exported as compared to the exports of US$ 87,070 of same period of last year.

Meanwhile, Gloves exports also increased by 6.00 per cent as the exports during current fiscal year recorded at worth US$ 24,552 as compared to the exports during the same period of last year which recorded US$ 23,163.

During the period under review, Others exports increased by 43.99 per cent, worth US$ 30,420 exported in current fiscal year as compared to the exports of valuing US$ 21,127 of same period of last year.
The exports of sports goods witnessed an increase of 24.48 percent during the first five months of current financial year (2021-22) as compared to the exports of corresponding period of last year.

Pakistan exported sport goods worth $134.803 million during July-November (2021-22) against the exports of $108.296 million during July-November (2020-21), showing growth of 24.48 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

Among the sports products, the exports of footballs increased by 19.34 percent as these surge from $53.354 million last year to $63.671 million during the current year.

The gloves’ exports rose by 12.90 percent by going up from $28.056 million last year to $31.676 million during the current year, the PBS data revealed
Hoping a increase in export at football world cup...


Pakistan produces more than 70% of all footballs in the world..​

Currently, the firms registered with the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry in key disciplines are 6800.

Sports Goods Industry​

The city of Sialkot has been a centre of excellence for the production of sports goods for more than 100 years. The first record of manufacturing of sports goods in Sialkot can be traced back to 1883 with the products such as cricket bats, hockey sticks, polo sticks etc. In 1918, a football was added and was supplied to British Army stationed at Singapore. Today the Sports Goods sector of Sialkot is at its climax as it has acquired an important place in international trade of sports goods.

Presently the Sports Goods Industry of Sialkot is supplying products to almost every country of the world, directly or indirectly. The products are mostly made for international markets and have received worldwide recognition because of the quality that goes into the selection of raw material, design, manufacturing processes and delivery to the customers.

Some of the world renowned brands who are sourcing a large portion of their supplies of sports goods from Sialkot are:

  • Adidas
  • Nike
  • Puma
  • Select
  • Lotto
  • Umbro
  • Mitre
  • Micassa
  • Diadora
  • Wilsons
  • Decathlon
More than 200,000 people are directly employed in the sports goods sector exporting sports goods worth US$ 450 millions annually from around 2,400 companies. Sialkot caters more than 70% of total world demand for hand-stitched inflatable soccer balls i.e. around 40 million balls annually worth US$ 210 million. During the peak season, which repeats after 4 years on the occasion of FIFA World Cup, the production of inflatable balls exceeds 60 million per annum. These balls are produced by a workforce of around 60,000.

The sports goods sector also has a very strong international presence in the market. Before China’s massive entry into international trade a few years ago, Pakistan was the world’s largest exporter of gloves used by motor bikers, goalkeepers, baseball, boxing, shooting etc. Currently the exports value of gloves reaches to US$ 50 million per annum.

Articles of sportswear exported include:

  • Track suits
  • Football
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Wind Breakers
  • Judo/Karate Kits
  • Casual Wear
  • Stockings
Today a skilled workforce of more than 10,000 employees is directly engaged in the production of sportswear and its exports value reaches to US$ 100 million per annum.

Leather Garments​

Leather garments sector is an important foreign exchange earner for the country. This sector is mainly scattered in two cities namely Sialkot and Karachi. As per the survey conducted by LIDO in 1997, there were a total of 355 units in the country out of which 186 are in Sialkot. In Sialkot approximately 12,000 people are directly employed by the sector. The leather garments entrepreneurs of Sialkot enjoy a distinctive edge over their counterparts in Karachi mainly due to expertise and skills they assimilated from the export culture of the city. Immaculate products of contemporary designs are crafted by using very good leathers. In addition the skills of the craftsmen impart an insurmountable competitive edge to the products unmatched by Pakistan’s competitors.

Another hallmark of the sector is the presence of SMEs, which have been performing the role as engine of growth by adapting to the changing market and customers trends in an agile manner. This sector is exporting goods worth US$ 217 (M) annually.

Surgical Instruments​

The Surgical Instruments Industry of Pakistan holds a history of more than 100 years, when some British doctors got their surgical instruments repaired from the skilled workers of Sialkot and that was the foundation of Sialkot Surgical Industry. The success in surgical instruments sector lies due to the technical expertise and skills of the people of Sialkot in mechanical engineering. The Surgical instruments Industry is also amongst the seven priority sectors (under light engineering head). The annual exports of Sialkot’s Surgical Instruments Industry are around US $ 180 Million out of its world market of over US$ 30 (B).

The Surgical Industry represents manufacturers and exporters of Surgical Instruments, Dental Instruments, Veterinary Instruments, Pedicure and Manicure Items, Tailor Scissors, Barber Saloon Scissors and Beauty Saloon instruments. About 1900 small and medium Surgical Units with labor force ranging from (10-500) are producing surgical instruments through the workforce of about 100,000. The industry is manufacturing and exporting both disposable and reusable instruments which constitute at 60% and 40% respectively of its total exports of surgical industry. About 80% of Sialkot’s surgical instruments are exported to United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Dubai, Japan, and Netherlands and 20% to rest of the world.

Exports from Sialkot​

Almost every product of Sialkot is being exported to international markets due to which Sialkot is earning more than US$ 900 Millions per annum and its share reaches to 6% of the total exports of Pakistan. Sialkot is the second largest exporting city of Pakistan. Almost 60% of total exports of Sialkot are done via Sialkot Dry Port Trust and 40% is exported from other ports like Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, etc.
The surgical instruments industry is mainly clustered in and around the skirts of Sialkot. Over 99% of the country’s production is centered at Sialkot.

The sector comprises over 3500+ companies.

Pakistan is one of the major countries in the world that is manufacturing and exporting hand-held quality surgical instruments throughout the world.

The top 10 buyers are the US, Germany, UK, France, Italy, UAE, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. America is the largest market for disposable instruments, while a majority of reusable instruments are exported to the EU. Pakistan’s direct exports of surgical instruments to China are also on the rise.

The surgical sector, according to industrialists, is facing several problems. These range from marketing to adoption of new technology. Marketing is a basic problem owing to a failure to develop local brands. Energy supply is another major handicap. Neither industrialists nor the government allocates funds for R&D to innovate new products in order to stay updated with changing patterns in medical sciences.

There is no training institute to train human resources. As 95pc of the surgical industry operates in the SME sector, there is a need for a common facility center to reduce the cost of production.
Sialkot’s position as a leading exporter of surgical instruments may also come under threat from upcoming competition from China and Mexico. These countries not only have cheap labor but also use superior technology for innovation and better materials for manufacturing.
Pakistan produced the match ball used in the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool.

It should be mentioned that footballs manufactured in Sialkot, Pakistan, have previously been used in FIFA World Cups and UEFA club championships.

Pakistani footballs will be used in this year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the ball was also used to display a message of peace in trying to bring the globe together.

"Making use of one of the sport's most important stages to unite the world in a worldwide message of peace, the ball is imprinted with the Ukrainian/Russian and English translations of that word: 'иp | Peace,'" UEFA stated in a statement before the match.

Real Madrid won the match by 1-0 to claim their record-extending 14th UCL title.

Pakistan-made footballs to be used in World Cup​

Bio-based recycling material used in manufacturing

June 20, 2022


Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) Senior Vice President Sheikh Zohaib Rafique Sethi said that the Al Rihla football, which is produced in Sialkot, would be used in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Talking to the media on Sunday, the SCCI leader said a Sialkot-based leading exports firm produced the footballs which would be used officially in the upcoming World Cup, adding that this would bring great honour and pride to the city and Pakistan.

Rafique said that it was third time that 'Forward Sports' would provide footballs for the FIFA World Cup. He added that the design of the football was inspired by the culture of Qatar.

He said that as the world was currently moving towards sustainability, so bio-based recycling material was used in the football manufacturing. No solvent chemicals were used in the manufacturing, rather water-based chemicals which do not pollute the environment, he said.

He said the ball, consisting of 20 panels, was declared one of the best footballs in the world. Traditionally, footballs for the World Cup were hand-stitched, until "thermos bonding," a new technology, was first introduced in the 2014 World Cup, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2022.


Moving ‘Forward’ — the story of Pakistan’s entry to Qatar 2022

Mariam Tahir
October 19, 2022

Women make up a sizeable number of the workforce in football manufacturing units around Sialkot and Forward Sports is no exception.—Photo by the writer

Women make up a sizeable number of the workforce in football manufacturing units around Sialkot and Forward Sports is no exception.—Photo by the writer

With mere weeks to go before the first kick-off at Qatar 2022, football fever is upon us all. But while a Pakistan squad has never been part of the competition, the country is represented at nearly every major soccer game in the world — by the balls themselves.

Like the ‘Tel Star 18’ in 2018 and the ‘Brazuca’ in 2014, this year’s Fifa World Cup will also be played exclusively with the Al Rihila.

“We make sure to give our hundred percent to every single ball, but when it comes to the football World Cup, the level of dedication is something else,” explains an assembly line inspector at Forward Sports, the factory in Sialkot that manufactures these balls.

Smartly dressed women positioned around an expansive assembly line are busy stitching, cutting and putting the finishing touches on specimens of the now world-famous match ball.

Although this is the third consecutive Fifa World Cup that Forward Sports is catering to, this is perhaps the first occasion that the product that will be kicked around by the likes of Ronaldo and Messi come November will be a truly ‘made in Pakistan’ product.

Forward Sports CEO Khawaja Masood Akhtar explains that unlike the last two outings, when the official ball was co-produced with China, this time his company is the exclusive manufacturer of the match balls. This is no mean feat, considering how ubiquitous the ‘made in China’ tag has become, thanks to their legendary manufacturing prowess.

Mr Akhtar views this as a testament to the company’s commitment to “innovation, automation and efficiency coupled with untiring research and development”.

In his words, their greatest advantage is cheap labour. “But labour will only get you so far if efficient systems are not place,” he says.

Founded in 1991, Forward Sports has been working with Adidas since the mid-1990s and claims to supply match balls to some of the world’s top football competitions, including the Champions League (since 2008), as well as the FIFA World Cup (since 2014).

A display of some of the balls supplied by the company to the world’s most prestigious football events, including the World Cup. —Photo by the writer

A display of some of the balls supplied by the company to the world’s most prestigious football events, including the World Cup. —Photo by the writer

Specimens of balls that were used in past competitions are displayed in the corner of a meeting room, where a brief presentation details the various milestones and many national and international accolades the company has garnered over the years.

Despite the political uncertainty that clouds things on the national front, Mr Akhtar is nonplussed. “When all is said and done, the client is concerned only with their demands being met timely and efficiently,” he reasons.

“If we are able to provide them quality goods at competitive rates, the client isn’t too concerned with who the head of the state is.”

The company is driven by a desire “to stay one step ahead of the competition”, which is evidenced by the breakthrough technologies employed by them. The most celebrated of these is ‘thermo-bonding’, whereby football panels are glued together for a completely seamless finish, unlike traditional hand and machine-stitched balls.

The company also boasts a host of patents – most notably for eliminating the need for the ‘last manual stitch’, previously deemed mandatory to seal machine-stitched balls, as well as the Airless mini ball that never deflates and doesn’t need an air pump.

The company’s testing lab is also one of their most prized possessions, for it is here that technicians in lab coats subject footballs to various stringent durability and heat, humidity, mould and impact tests; all in a bid to ensure that the product going into the hands and feet of international footballers are of a befitting quality.

A tour of the factory reveals that assembling a modern football isn’t simply about needle and thread work anymore — the craft that originally put Sialkot on the map.

“In this day and age, it is not just necessary but essential to do away with the old and make way for the new. In the past, we were dependent on the individual kaarigar (artisan). Now, it is the machine, nay the whole system, which servers as a karigar,” Mr Akhtar explains.

Small wonder, then, that they are able to produce around a million balls a month and successfully meet the demands of their growing customer base, even on “impossibly short notice”.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2022
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