Although Pakistan as a nation ranks as a modest No. 159 on the global soccer association FIFA’s ranking list, a Pakistani company is No. 1 when it comes to producing balls for the world’s biggest soccer leagues and cups.
Khawaja Masood Akhtar
When Germany’s Mario Götze scored against Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, the ball he shot into the net was produced by Forward Sports based in Sialkot, Pakistan. Making the official soccer ball for the World Cup was a dream come true for owner and CEO Khawaja Masood Akhtar. But the prestigious order did not come out of the blue.“It was the ultimate dream to make the World Cup ball and it took 20 years to make this possible for Forward Sports,” he says.
Thanks to a close cooperation with Adidas, which started in 1995, Forward Sports supplies Adidas with soccer balls for prestigious tournaments and competitions such as the London Olympics, the UEFA Champions League, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1. The company produced roughly 5.5 million “Brazuca” balls, the official ball of the World Cup. The biggest challenge was to quickly establish a production line.
“Normally, it takes six months to set up such a line, and we did it in 33 days,” says Akhtar. “We worked day and night to make it possible.”
The balls go through rigorous testing at the factory, and compressors from Atlas Copco make the production process more efficient and reliable. “We need to equip ourselves with state-of-the-art machinery. Using compressed air is vital for most of our critical processes.”
Location: Sialkot, Pakistan
Number of employees: 3 000
Products: soccer balls, sport bags, volleyballs, rugby balls, beach balls, sala balls, medicine balls, sportswear, shoes, goal keeping gloves, training vests, goal nets.
Total production capacity: 700 000 balls per month