New Delhi: Pakistan may be known as a cricketing nation but not many know that the soccer balls for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be imported from the 159th-ranked football nation. When World Cup's Chinese supplier Adidas failed to keep up with the demand of soccer balls in Rio de Janeiro, a report in 'Express Tribune' said that a Sialkot ball manufacturing company then stepped in and got the contract.
'Brazuca' the official ball of the 2014 FIFA Football World Cup. File Pic/AFP
Factory owner Khwaja Akhtar, who has made balls for the German Bundesliga, French league and the Champions League, is excited with the challenge of being a part of World Cup soccer history. "It was when I felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup that I dreamt of a goal of my own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest football tournament on the planet," Akhtar said.
"The people were chanting all around me. I just thought, this is the real thing. I was part of the crowd. I never had that kind of feeling before," added Akhtar. Sialkot, a town in eastern Pakistan, was once the unassailable soccer ball production capital of the world -- exporting about 30 million balls a year, an estimated 40 percent of global production -- but India and China have recently caught up. In December 2013, Brazil unveiled the latest soccer ball for the 2014 edition -- the Brazuca -- on the official FIFA World Cup website.
The Brazuca features a striking new design and new panel system. Six identical interlocking panels make up the ball's synthetic surface, thermally bonded to keep out moisture. The month-long tournament, which kickstarts on June 12, has 32 of the worlds best sides locking horns in the most watched event in sports.