India?s soccer strength: Balls
An Indian would not be kicking the football at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. But the world over, as people try to bend it like Beckham and dribble it like Ronaldinho, they will be playing footsie with balls made by an Indian company.
Jalandhar-based Sakay Traders has been in the thick of action ever since it entered into an agreement with the world football body, FIFA, in 2005 to supply balls all over the world in connection with the World Cup that begins on June 9. It is the only Indian firm to have such a tie-up with FIFA. The agreement also allows the Sakay Traders to use its official logo on all the footballs being produced by it before being dispatched to various parts of the world.
It is a different kind of football fever at Sakay Traders with about 6,000 men hunching with tools, making 22,000-25,000 footballs every day by hand.
They have already supplied about 50 lakh footballs to the soccer-crazy Europe and South America and more are rolling out of the Punjab town.
"We might not be part of the biggest football extravaganza in Germany but at least we are providing footballs all over the globe in connection with it. The orders are pouring in thick and fast but I have already expressed my inability to match the growing demand," said Ashok Katyal, chief executive of Sakay Traders.
"While my football costs about $2.5 (Rs 110) in the international market, others are selling it for $10-12," added Katyal, who bagged the National Export Award for the largest exports of sports goods from India.
India may only be 118 on FIFA ranking but at Sakay you wouldn't feel it.