Sialkot, Pakistan, has been a worldwide hub of football, or soccer ball, production since the late 1800s. British colonials paid local cobblers to re-create the balls they used at home, and production never stopped.
I established Forward Sports in 1991. In our first year, we manually produced 1,000 hand-stitched balls per month. I consider this form most effective—due to the strength of each hand stitch—but I explored new materials, panel shapes, and ways of production. By 2004, we implemented lean manufacturing principles that reduced waste and modernized production with automatic lamination, printing, and panel-cutting machines.
Now, we make hand-stitched, machine-stitched, thermal-bonded, and even airless mini balls (which never deflate), and gradually have grown production to 1 million balls per month.
Our clients include Adidas and Diadora, and in 2014 and ’18, we produced the official FIFA World Cup match ball. Through the hardworking staff who has supported me for generations, Forward Sports remains one of the most reputable football manufacturers in the world.
How It’s Done
We cut, press, and laminate synthetic leather panels—often 24 or 32, but the count depends on the ball type—then use a polyester-cotton thread to stitch them together, either by hand or by machine. Panels for thermal-bonded balls fuse inside a mold, via an adhesive applied to the panel edges. Next, the panels envelop a bladder made of top-quality rubber from our manufacturing unit in Lahore, Pakistan. We then perform a series of tests, including shooting the ball against metal plates to assess strength, before inspection.
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