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  • This factory produces 160,000 footballs per month.

  • Bola Gema Pakistan is in Sialkot,

  • a city that produces most of the world's footballs,

  • nearly 70%.

  • And even as team sports have come to a standstill

  • during the pandemic,

  • these manufacturers kept business going.

  • For 13 years, Waseem Shahbaz Lodhi has been running this factory.

  • It all starts at this machine,

  • which creates sheets out of hot rubber.

  • They are cut into a round shape

  • and form the bladder, or inner lining, of a football.

  • Next, the bladders are inflated

  • and placed into metal steam machines,

  • where they bake for a few minutes, hardening the rubber.

  • In another part of the factory,

  • workers cut patches for the ball's external shell.

  • Leather was once used to make the outer surface,

  • but it can soak up water.

  • So factories now use a synthetic substitute.

  • Each ball is made of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons,

  • and there are several ways of putting them together.

  • But that process is slow and costly,

  • which is why Bola Gema has changed with the times.

  • Saeeda Bibi works on the thermal-bonded balls.

  • It's like putting a puzzle together.

  • She refers to a diagram

  • and then joins the different pieces by hand

  • using a special glue.

  • Next, the ball is placed in here,

  • and the inner lining is bonded on.

  • That's the perfect weight for a FIFA-approved ball,

  • which can sell for over $100 in the US,

  • more than the monthly wages of some workers

  • who make these balls.

  • Ahead of the last World Cup in 2018,

  • Pakistan exported over 37 million footballs

  • across the globe.

  • Until today, the industry remains a major source of income,

  • with at least 1,000 football factories in Sialkot alone

  • employing nearly 60,000 people.

  • But during the pandemic, many closed down.

  • But Waseem has been looking out for his workers.

  • These days, Bola Gema has its eyes on the prize:

  • the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

  • It has already started manufacturing balls

  • ahead of the event.

  • But before they are exported,

  • the footballs go through one last stress test.

  • Machines then deflate the balls

  • so that they can be easily packed and shipped off.

  • And even as the pandemic drags on,

  • Waseem hopes that the football industry will bounce back.

This factory produces 160,000 footballs per month.

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70% Of The World's Footballs Come From This City In Pakistan | Big Business

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/25
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