Football is the most popular sport in the world, and with 3.5 billion fans you can just imagine how many footballs there are in the world.
Sialkot, Pakistan is the world capital of football production with up to 60 million hand-stitched balls being exported every year. The balls are mostly produced for companies like Adidas and the Champions League by workers who typically work eight hours a day, six days a week, taking home an average of 10,000 rupees per month (or £112). Shockingly, this monthly wage is less than the retail price of some of the footballs they produce.
This is generally considered a ‘good’ wage compared to the national average, but it doesn’t take into account working conditions and fair treatment of employees. The printing and synthetic leather production requires glues and solvents and many producers don’t have the proper health & safety protection in place.
Bala Sport is a co-operative dedicated to expanding the availability and use of ethically produced Fairtrade sports balls. The benefits of producing a Fairtrade product go far beyond receiving a fair wage - the Fairtrade Premium is paid to the community for social, economic and environmental development projects like free healthcare and education for workers, their families and the wider community.
All Bala Sport employees are well looked after - receiving free eye tests and subsidised glasses, the workers children have been given backpacks for school and water purification plants in the factories, which can be used by anyone in the local area. There are also special busses which allow for female and male employees to travel separately, providing free and safe transport to and from work for all.
They recently supported the Homeless World Cup 2016 being the official partner and produced a limited edition ball for the event– the Bala Astro. They also produced a special Euros ball to celebrate the UEFA Championship – who unfortunately did not decide to use Fairtrade footballs for the league!
Bala's balls are made to the same standard that FIFA use and they're now starting to branch out into other balls like rugby balls.
Bala offer custom designs and a range of footballs to suit different conditions and budgets which makes them ideal for community groups and schools. One World Shop currently sells a range of Fairtrade footballs, available both in the shop and online. We are urging all local schools in Central Scotland to buy Fairtrade footballs in the new term. If you’d like to bring your team of fans to the shop to see them, or arrange for our speaker Rachel to visit your school to show off the Bala Footballs get in touch!
photos provided by Bala Sport