“The Beautiful Game”: Hand-Stitched, Fair-Trade Soccer Balls

Was in Guelph on Saturday (day trip), grabbing an iced tea, and noticed copies of Fair Trade magazine, published by the Canadian Fair Trade Network, with the featured story: “The Beautiful Game: Changing Lives at Home and Abroad”. “The Beautiful Game” profiles the history of soccer ball manufacturing, and a recent global movement to produce fair trade soccer balls, in Pakistan.

In an article by The Hindu they note that “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”.

For further reading about soccer ball production (and pictures from inside a Sialkot factory) in Pakistan, check out “From Pakistan to Brazil: An inside look at how the soccer balls for the 2014 World Cup are made” in The Week, as well as “One City in Pakistan Makes Nearly Half of the World’s Soccer Balls” in The Atlantic.

“Time is now for Canada to shift from participation to performance in soccer”

Article written by Kara Lang, a former member of Canada’s women’s national soccer team, during which it competed at the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympic Games, as a special correspondent for the Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/time-is-now-for-canada-to-shift-from-participation-to-performance-in-soccer/article19608603/

“More kids play organized soccer than any other sport in Canada. But when it comes to building a true soccer culture, the country is at a crossroads. We can sit back and simply be satisfied with encouraging kids to play soccer to promote an active lifestyle, or we can capitalize on the popularity of the sport to build elite, international talent”.

Final Thoughts: Men’s World Cup

Was away on vacation last week and missed the Third Place match between Brazil and Netherlands. Heard it was another self-destruct by Brazil and that Netherlands dominated. Over the last decade I’ve seen Brazilian teams (women’s and men’s) be their own worst enemy time and again. Why this happens, don’t know, perhaps it’s too much pressure or they can’t seem to play as a cohesive unit when it matters most.

The Final between Argentina and Germany was anti-climatic. Commentators and fans may disagree, but I was not on the edge of my seat during the first 90 minutes. Was slightly on edge during the extra 30 minutes and was saddened for Messi every time Argentina could not finish on the many scoring opportunities they were given. Quite frankly, no one player should be burdened by that much pressure. And you could see on his face the stress and disappointment.

The most impressive thing about this tournament was how close the competition was. There were games that went back and forth for a full 90 minutes; where counter-attack was skillful and strategic; fouls seemed to be a bit down, which reflected a smarter brand of soccer; and there were huge upsets (Spain, Argentina, Italy, Brazil) and great surprises (Costa Rica, Colombia, USA).

In the end though, I still think women’s soccer at the professional level, whether that be World Cup or otherwise, is far more interesting and impressive, with way less on-field drama. I just wish that it would be viewed that way by others.

As CBC was signing off last night after the final game, the commentator said that we would have to wait another four years for the magic and excitement. Ummmmmmm, no we don’t, women’s U20 World Cup: August 2014 and women’s World Cup: Summer 2015. The magic and excitement will visit us in less than 12 months, two times over. And they say we don’t need feminism anymore…