In Jalandhar, 15,000 locals give shape to football dreams : The Tribune India

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In Jalandhar, 15,000 locals give shape to football dreams

In Jalandhar, 15,000 locals give shape to football dreams

Family members stitch footballs in Jalandhar. Photo: Sarabjit Singh



Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar, June 17

It is 6:15 pm and at least one person in every third house in Basti Danishmandan, Jalandhar West, could be spotted sitting on a raised platform tightly holding on a semi-stitched football inside out between their folded legs. There is power outage in the area and they all perhaps seemed to be making use of the last hour of the natural light to do their work.

Sialkot to Jalandhar

  • There are around 150 companies engaged in making footballs in the Jalandhar West Assembly segment which is to go to the polls on July 10
  • These companies through contractors have further engaged as many as 15,000 people for football stitching
  • Those into stitching work have an apprehension that football stitching work that their ancestors brought here from Sialkot is a dying industry and they could all go jobless in the years to come

As middle-aged Neha sat outside chit-chatting with her neighbour, her hands continued to make quick, tight stitches to bind the 32-piece football with a thick thread and a long sharp needle. “Despite so much of practice, it takes me straight two and a half hours to complete the stitching of one football that fetches me Rs 80 per ball. If am able to work uninterrupted, I can stitch up to five balls a day. That’s the livelihood of our family for decades”, she says.

It is not just Neha but her 19-year-old daughter Tanya, who too sits along stitching a relatively simpler rugby ball. “The rugby stitching will fetch us Rs 35 for a ball. I and my husband have been doing it earlier but Tanya has joined us recently. For a beginner, rugby stitching is easier”, she says.

Just right across her door is the house of a relatively elder, frail looking man Sukhdev. He takes us inside his house to show at least 20 stitched balls which he, his wife and two grown-up kids have readied in the last three-four days. All family members could be seen wearing a broad, rubber ring on the top fold of the first finger so as to avoid any cuts by the thread or the needle.

Sukhdev further explains, “It is far more easier to work on the PVC football material which we get now. I have worked on leather material, synthetic rubber and other hard polymers but this one is much softer and making stitches into it involves less of effort and saves time”.

There are around 150 companies engaged in making footballs in the Jalandhar West Assembly segment which is to go to the polls on July 10. These companies through contractors have further engaged as many as 15,000 people for football stitching. Those into stitching work have an apprehension that football stitching work that their ancestors brought here from Sialkot in Pakistan is a dying industry and they could all go jobless in the years to come.

“It is just because of less cost of production and more demand for balls that we continue to get the work. The middlemen are still the ones who earn far more than us that too without putting in any hard labour like us. They get Rs 140-150 per stitched ball from the company,” rued Raj Rani, another woman from the area.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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