New Delhi: Pakistan may be known as a cricketing nation but not many know that the soccer balls for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be imported from the 159th-ranked football nation.
When World Cup`s Chinese supplier Adidas failed to keep up with the demand of soccer balls in Rio de Janeiro, a report in `Express Tribune` said that a Sialkot ball manufacturing company then stepped in and got the contract.
Factory owner Khwaja Akhtar, who has made balls for the German Bundesliga, French league and the Champions League, is excited with the challenge of being a part of World Cup soccer history.
"It was when I felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup that I dreamt of a goal of my own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest football tournament on the planet," Akhtar said.
"The people were chanting all around me. I just thought, this is the real thing. I was part of the crowd. I never had that kind of feeling before," added Akhtar.
Sialkot, a town in eastern Pakistan, was once the unassailable soccer ball production capital of the world -- exporting about 30 million balls a year, an estimated 40 percent of global production -- but India and China have recently caught up.
In December 2013, Brazil unveiled the latest soccer ball for the 2014 edition -- the Brazuca -- on the official FIFA World Cup website.
The Brazuca features a striking new design and new panel system. Six identical interlocking panels make up the ball`s synthetic surface, thermally bonded to keep out moisture.
The month-long tournament, which kickstarts on June 12, has 32 of the worlds best sides locking horns in the most watched event in sports.