The world’s most significant sporting event will have an unusual leading light this summer. With the 2018 World Cup in Russia, only months away a host of star nations will compete for sport’s most prestigious and coveted trophy.
Hosts Russia will be accompanied by fabled sporting giants such as Argentina, Brazil & Germany to name but a few to stage the eagerly anticipated competition views by millions across the globe. Alongside the glitterati of nations set to line-up at this summer’s tournament is a curious nation when it comes to Football. That honour falls to Pakistan. Pakistan, who will not feature at this summer’s competition, (ranked 198th in the world) will take centre stage in an intriguing but pivotal role.
Pakistani great thermo bonded balls will be in use in the competition for the first time in World cup matches. Adidas, (who are the largest manufacturers of footballs in the sport) unveiled their official World cup ball back in November 2017.
The ‘Telstar’ which has been modelled on balls from previous tournaments has a pixelated, retro look & to it. It will now also take on a distinctly Asian feel too. Russian ambassador to Pakistan, Alexey Pedov, recently confirmed Russia is indeed going to use Pakistani-made footballs
Forward Sports Company – which is a contracting manufacturer of global sports brand Adidas – are working overtime to ensure match balls are ready for use this summer. They are already responsible for providing footballs to some of Europe’s major top-tier leagues, including Germany’s top flight the Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, & Europe’s premier club competition the UEFA Champions League. They were also the providers of the official match ball for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ‘The Brazuca’.
The company, located on the outskirts of the North-eastern Sialkot city, which borders India. The region is famous in the sports entertainment industry for producing the excellent quality sports goods.
Khawaja Masood, the chairman of the company, told Anadolu Agency “This is an honour for us, that we are going to provide footballs for the world cup once again. We are very excited to meet this challenge.” Refusing to give the exact numbers of footballs the company is going to supply for the World Cup alone due to restrictions from Adidas, Khawaja said his firm produced a total of 700,000 footballs a month.
The football that will be used in the upcoming tournament is technically termed as thermo bonded, which was first introduced in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Before that, Pakistan had supplied hand stitched football for almost all the World Cups from the 1990s to 2010.
Other types of footballs produced in Sialkot are glued balls and hand-stitched balls.
Thermo bonded balls are made by attaching the panels through heat – the latest technology adopted by Adidas and transferred to Forward Sports in 2013.
“Although Pakistan football team will not be participating in the forthcoming World Cup, its presence will be felt in all the matches [because of the balls],” Khawaja told Anadolu Agency.
According to Husnain Cheema, president of the Pakistan Sports Goods Association, the country will export around 10 million footballs across the world this year.