For more than 30 years, the adidas Group has sourced footballs from Pakistan.Sialkot is the centre of the football stitching industry in Pakistan, which has in the past employed under-age workers. To discourage this, an industry-wide initiative – supported by the International Labour Organization, FIFA and UNICEF – resulted in an independent and self-governing committee to monitor the prohibition of child labour.The issues that contribute to child labour are poverty, unemployment and a lack of education. Since 2002, adidas has funded the local NGO Sudhaar to provide an Education, School Infrastructure and Sports Programme that works to improve standards of education, access and improvements to schooling in the area’s rural communities.Programme impactSince 2002, the adidas Group support has benefited some 25,000 children enrolled in 138 schools in the Sialkot District. About 27% of the children come from football stitcher families.Our interventions make children feel that they matter as individuals, that people care for their wellbeing and that there is value in being at school. The adidas Group project has strengthened sports provision at these schools by forming junior football leagues, providing free coaching, and arranging tournaments to boost students’ confidence and improve their skills. At one such tournament in 2011, the six participating teams wore adidas uniforms and played with adidas balls, just like international players. Some of the adidas suppliers in Pakistan also made an appearance to show their support. The banners displayed around the pitch reflected messages in favour of children’s rights, particularly the right to education and play.The players came from communities where family incomes were either directly or indirectly associated with football stitching. Tournaments like these help reinforce the simple idea that “adults should make the balls and children should play only”. Shahzad Ahmad, the 12-year-old captain of the runner-up team said: “Wow, it was great to play such thrilling matches – although we lost in the final. We are continuing our practice and next year we’ll win.”Hammad Akhter, vice-captain of the winning team: “We enjoyed playing, reaching the final and winning this tournament unbeaten. Our coach threw a party to celebrate this BIG WIN!“
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