Forward Sports: The Pakistani Company behind Football “Rihala”.

World Cup fever has enwrapped us all, but do you know the manufacturers behind the football.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be packed with exciting moments. Imagine the ball being kicked by Renaldo, Messi, Mbappé, Stu Holden, Marquinhos, and many more legends, and then it is auctioned off, leaving another piece of history to be preserved across the world. And that ball is manufactured in Pakistan.

Sialkot is a small and historic industrial city in north-eastern Pakistan, close to the Indian border. The football link has made the 650,000-person city famous across the world for soccer. Every year, up to 50 million balls are created here, including in Khawaja Masood Akhtar’s facility.

Forward Sports is one the premium and top-notch sports manufacturers of Pakistan. Mr Khawaja Masood Akhtar, a civil engineer is the CEO of the company who founded Forward Sports in 1991. His enthusiasm for the game was the real reason that prompted him to switch from engineering to start his own business.

Forward Sports’ started with just 50 employees. However, Masood worked his way up from 1000 balls each month to ultimately gaining the faith of the world’s largest market behemoth “Adidas” in 1994. Forward Sports has been working with Adidas since 1995 and has previously supplied footballs for both the UEFA Champions League and the German Bundesliga.

Fast forward to 2014, the original ‘Brazuca’ balls for the World Cup finals were also manufactured in Pakistan and the crafters were no other but the Forward. They exported about 42 million Brazuca balls and each ball was estimated to sell for roughly $160 USD.

Khawaja Masood Akhtar CEO Forward Sports

Khawaja Masood Akhtar has learned to like football, especially when his footballs are utilised on the field. “Watching a thrilling World Cup match with one of our balls is quite emotional for me,” he says. “But it is, of course, a great responsibility.” After all, we want the players to enjoy and be enthusiastic about using our balls. A ball may be the deciding element in a game.” Even after nearly 40 years, Akhtar says he still gets emotional when he holds a brand-new World Cup ball in his hands.

They specialize in Soccer Balls, Sala Balls, Volley Balls, Hand Balls, Baskets Balls and Goal Keeper Gloves along with other sporting accessories. “Rihala” is another feather in Forward Sports’ cap. It is not only a proud moment for them but for the whole nation as well. The football is priced at 165$ on Adidas official website.

Written by Shazia Gulzar

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