Pakistan, ranked 198th in the latest FIFA rankings, won't be making the trip to the World Cup in Russia, but they have a special reason to rejoice this summer.
Footballs manufactured in Pakistan will be used in the World Cup matches, making over 200 million Pakistanis feel their presence in the event.
The Adidas Telstar 18 footballs are manufactured in Sialkot, Pakistan. Interestingly, this is not the first time that the World Cup match balls are being manufactured in Pakistan, even the one used in the previous edition in Brazil – named Brazuca – came from Sialkot, the region famous all across the globe as the manufacturing hub of sports equipment.
Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov recently said that his country will be using footballs manufactured in the Pakistani city of Sialkot for use in matches at the World Cup, reported Al Jazeera.
"Pakistan is one of the most renowned countries in the world in the manufacture of sport equipment," Dedov was quoted as saying.
"We want to enhance our cooperation with Pakistan to other sectors as well," he added.
Husnain Cheema, president of the Pakistan Sports Goods Association, claimed that Pakistan's share in the global supply of footballs in 2018 would be a staggering 10 million. Pakistan's love for manufacturing football dates back to the British times of colonialism before 1947.
A recent video, released by Russian state space agency Roscosmos is doing rounds on social media. The video shows two Russian cosmonauts — Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Artemyev — engaged in a makeshift game with Sialkot-manufactured footballs in zero-gravity habitable artificial satellite — the International Space Station (ISS).
Out of 40 million footballs made in Pakistan, one made it to the space. Telstar 18 (adidas) is the official football of FIFA World Cup 2018 to be held in Russia. pic.twitter.com/nkPgVMvlHY
— @AdnanIqbal (@AdnanIqccseoul) June 4, 2018
Traditionally, Pakistani footballs were hand-stitched, but the process changed in 2013 when Forward Sports — the company that manufactures the Adidas Telstar 18 footballs — made a switch to thermo bonded balls, whose panels are joined together through heat rather than stitches.
Khawaja Masood, the chairman of Forward Sports, the company that manufactures the Adidas Telstar 18 footballs, had said, "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."
The company also made "footballs for the German Bundesliga, France Ligue 1, and the Champions League" as well.
The FIFA World Cup 2018 is all set to kick-off in Russia, with the first match scheduled to take place on 14 June.
Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 15:49 PM