A company from Pakistan is the official ball manufacturer of the FIFA World Cup 2014 once more, after a break of 32 years. Pakistan caters to around 70% of the demand for hand-sewn balls across the globe, and by securing the contract for ‘Brazuca’, the Brazil World Cup ball, Sialkot will have an opportunity to increase their market share in the export of other sporting goods as well. Small and medium sized enterprises in Sialkot have an amazing opportunity to grow, and their reliance on skilled labour and keeping quality in check are two major reasons for their worldwide success.

Roughly 10,000 people are employed in the sporting goods sector in Pakistan. The quality of Pakistan’s sporting goods is equivalent to the best in the world. Over 200,000 are employed by over 2400 small firms in the city. This is perfect for export, because large firms in Pakistan do not care for working conditions or being stringent about quality. Training labour to improve production capabilities is rarely seen in other industries, and maybe experience from Sialkot can be applied in other sectors as well. There are only sporadic incidences of success through large scale firms, one exception being the textile industry of Pakistan, which relies on large firms for the production of cloth. But even there, small and medium sized firms are behind the export of finished garments.

The future of the country’s economy is tenuous at best. The indicators of growth pointed out by the government are circumstantial, and yet, amid all the uncertainty, our sporting industry continues to thrive. The things that are being done right in Sialkot should be implemented in all industries of the manufacturing sector, and maybe Pakistan should rethink its strategy towards production, forgoing the antiquated system of looking towards large producers to increase exports. The sporting industry has had its ups and downs like everything else, but the trajectory has been steadily moving upwards over the long run. This progress could have been faster, but comparing it to our other industries, it is a wonder this has been achieved at all.