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‘Made-in-Sialkot’ ball puts Pakistan in the World Cup

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SIALKOT: Even though it is a cricket-mad nation, Pakistan is playing a big part in the soccer World Cup by making the balls used on the training fields in Qatar and the replicas sold to fans worldwide.

Forward Sports, a multinational sports equipment company in the northeastern city of Sialkot, has been working with Adidas AG for almost 20 years. It is one of two manufacturers of Adidas’ Al Rihla, the official World Cup ball.

Forward Sports Director Hassan Masood Khawaja said his company had made 5.5 million Al Rihla balls, including 60,000 high-quality replicas of the balls used in matches, only without the real-time technology helping referees with offside and line calls.

They are used by the teams as they train in Qatar, and sold as a premium product to football enthusiasts across the globe, with the rest sold as lower-priced leisure and souvenir balls. The match balls are made in China. Adidas declined to identify the manufacturer.

For the company, the contract is a source of pride.

“More than business, it is a matter of prestige and honour for us to make the World Cup ball,” Khawaja said.

“How do we do it? It’s the skill of the people … and our love for the sport,” he said.

Hassan Masood Khawaja director of Forward Sports, the official manufacturer of sports goods for Adidas, speaks with Reuters at his factory in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters
Hassan Masood Khawaja director of Forward Sports, the official manufacturer of sports goods for Adidas, speaks with Reuters at his factory in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters

While soccer is popular among fans, the national side is ranked 194 out of 211 countries by FIFA. Cricket reigns supreme.

Sialkot has a rich history of making soccer balls and other sporting equipment dating back to colonial times.

Workers check the finish of soccer balls before packing them in the soccer ball factory in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters
Workers check the finish of soccer balls before packing them in the soccer ball factory in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters

Pakistan remains one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of soccer balls, along with China and India. The local chamber of commerce said more than 43 million balls valued at $191 million were made in Sialkot in the 2021/22 financial year.

About 8% of Sialkot’s population of around 1 million people work in the industry, but many say they have little time to actually see their product in action.

A worker moves a lot of finished balls out of the production area inside the soccer ball factory, in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters
A worker moves a lot of finished balls out of the production area inside the soccer ball factory, in Sialkot, Pakistan November 30, 2022. — Reuters

“We work all day,” said Forward Sports quality control inspector Amna, when asked if she watched soccer. “At night, when we go home, we need to rest.”

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PSL 9: Basit Ali offers a daring leadership recommendation for PCB

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In order to raise the status of Green Shirts, former cricketer-turned-coach Basit Ali stated in the most recent episode of PSL special show “Har Lamha Purjosh,” hosted by Waseem Badami, that it is a good idea for new PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi to give wicketkeeper-batsman Muhammad Rizwan the captaincy of the national team.

In order to improve Pakistani cricket, he stated, “I believe that now is the ideal time to name Rizwan captain.” “This is the right time to take this bold step and name him captain. I have some free advice for the newly appointed PCB chairman.”

In the recently concluded Pakistan vs. New Zealand series, he further criticised left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s captaincy, claiming that it even caused his pace to decline. He went on to say, “The 4-1 defeat by New Zealand after Babar’s removal from captaincy is a good enough reason that bold decisions must be made now to prepare ahead of the World Cup.”

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PSL 9 match security details released

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The PSL will see over 16,000 police officers handling security responsibilities since matches in Rawalpindi and Multan will have a security strategy in place.

Colin Munro and Tymal Mills of Islamabad United landed in Lahore, and the team will play Lahore Qalandars to open the season.

Mohsin Naqvi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), announced that the PSL’s ninth season will start on February 17.

He stated that the duration of the traffic closure would be limited and that the public would be notified about other routes through the media in a timely manner. He also directed that effective management be made to preserve fluency for the convenience of the people.

The Lahore DIG Operations Police announced that around 7000 people will be assigned to a security strategy that would guarantee spectators, including cricket players, complete security.

According to the security plan, residents would be permitted entry after completing four levels of security, and 13 SPs, 36 DSPs, and 81 inspectors would be stationed. The situation would also be continually monitored by the Punjab Safe City Authority’s cameras.

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PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi requests an in-depth spending report.

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Mohsin Naqvi, the recently elected chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has started a thorough investigation of the organization’s spending.

The request, which is aimed at the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO), highlights the organization’s careful attention to financial management.

Information obtained from people with knowledge of the situation reveals that the scope of the spending report includes all aspects of PCB’s business.

These consist of funding for the Pakistan cricket team, expenditures for sports personnel, and match-related costs. Furthermore, the report will give information on the PCB’s yearly budget and player compensation.

Chairman Naqvi’s decision is more than just a formality; it reflects a deeper desire to link spending to the national cricket team’s results.

It is believed that Chairman Naqvi is eager to examine the monetary outlays in comparison to the results achieved on the field, suggesting a calculated approach to resource distribution.

Chairman Naqvi is scheduled to call a briefing with the PCB’s senior brass after the comprehensive report has been prepared.

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