SIALKOT (AFP) Twenty years ago, Faqeer Hussain took pride in his work, starry eyed that the balls he hand-stitched in a grubby backroom in Pakistan were destined for the worlds greatest players. Gracing the pitch of World Cups in glamourous Western cities, Hussain saw beyond the grind of his job and dreamed of the beautiful game, and the players he admired but could never hope to meet. A decade ago, 70 percent of the worlds soccer balls were made in the Pakistani town of Sialkot, but footballs that Hussain stitches from leather panels today will be offside at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Outrage in the West over child labour and the onset of machine-made balls mean that the five million balls suppliers are readying for South Africa will be for training and promotional uses only. I used to take a lot of pride in stitching soccer balls, because the worlds best players would play with it but now its only my job, said Hussain, 58. As with countless other industries built on labour in developing countries, workers like him are at the bottom of the food chain. He says he gets the equivalent of 80 cents a ball, sold for 10 dollars (840 rupees) to international retailers who in turn make four times the profit. Sialkot gained international celebrity status when it produced the Tango ball for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, kicking off a lucrative industry. The town now manufacturers sports equipment sold all over the world. For years it has been a beacon of commercial success in Punjab, where unemployment runs high and the Taliban have stepped up recruitment from the morass of disaffected youth in the south of the province. But recession exacerbated by instability from Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked suicide attacks in the country, a crippling power crisis and a preference for machine-made balls, have hit the football cottage industry. China is where Adidas chose to produce the 2010 World Cup ball the thermally bonded Jabulani, which means celebrate in Zulu and billed on the FIFA website as the most stable and most accurate Adidas ball ever. Demand is not even 20 percent of what it used to be, admits Zia-ur-Rehman, chairman of the Pakistan Sports Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PSGMEA). We badly need government support. If it comes only then we would be able to keep the industry kicking, he said. Western cries of foul-play over child labour almost red-carded the Pakistani industry. During the 1996 European championship held in England, activists lobbied to end the use of child labour. This led to the Atlanta Agreement in 1997, which seeks to reform the industry and eliminate the use of child labour in the production of balls. The Independent Monitoring Association for Child Labour (IMAC) today insists noone under the legal age of 14 is working in the Sialkot football industry. IMAC chief executive Nasir Dogar says his staff visit 2,000 to 2,500 workplaces each month in an area covering 6,000 square kilometres (2,320 square miles) and six cities, including Sialkot. We came across only one incident since January this year, when one child was found but that was also a school-going child, Dogar said. The monitoring process, he argues, has benefited the industry by injecting quality control, satisfying buyers concerns, helping producers meet deadlines and therefore keep costs down. Over the last decade, Pakistan on average exported 40 million balls worth 210 million dollars produced annually by some 60,000 highly skilled labours. It is competition from Asian rivals and the miserable security situation that keep industry leaders awake at night these days. We have built the trust of IMAC, but for us the main worry remains power failures because we cant compete the cost of the balls made in China and India if we use generators, said Husnain Cheema, the vice chairman of PSGMEA. The socio-political situation in Pakistan has definitely affected the businesses in Pakistan overall, he said.