With the FIFA World Cup to get underway next month, the local football manufacturing units are abuzz with activity. The units in Jalandhar are producing around 50,000 balls a day to meet the mammoth demand from across the world.
Export councils operating in the region say the business of football manufacturing has got a boost ahead of the World Cup scheduled for June 12. Soccer ball manufacturers are flooded with orders from different countries, especially those in Europe.
Though there has been a decline in the football manufacturing business in the past three to four years, the Jalandharbased industry believes the returns will be high by the time the World Cup begins in Brazil. A large number of footballs are also exported to Argentina, a football-crazy country, every four years at the time of the FIFA World Cup.
There are a large number of football and other sports material manufacturing units in Jalandhar. The sector is unorganised due to the fact that it comes under the cottage industry; as a result, the total number of footballs manufactured could not be ascertained.
Sanjay Sharma, owner of Sharma Exports unit of soccer balls, says football is either manufactured in Jalandhar or in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. He says the minimum cost of the football available with him is Rs 200 and the maximum is Rs 450. “There has been a decline in profits due to Pakistan and China manufacturing betterquality professional footballs. On the other hand, labour shortage has also caused a dent in the production of footballs in different units,” said Sharma.
Jalandhar industry is known for making promotional footballs used for advertising and showcasing. Many multi-national companies have signed orders with the Jalandhar companies to source customised footballs.
Brijesh Chander, owner of Hike International, says he has received several orders from Argentina, France and the United Kingdom. “There has been a spurt in soccer ball orders in the past few months, especially for the World Cup,” he adds.
Indian football has also been facing the problem of low production due to lack of labour and quality; as a result, it is mostly being used for promotional and training activities and not professional use. Chinese footballs have also affected the Indian market. Most of the orders are fetched by Pakistan.