Farewell 2019

So here we are at the end of another year. 2019 was a good one for Bala Sport in terms of what we’ve achieved regarding awareness raising, support we’ve received and exposure for this little known Fairtrade product category. Sadly however the all-important sales increase we needed to make a bigger difference in the lives of our workers in India and Pakistan hasn’t materialised.

So, 2020 is a crucial year for us. We need your support more than ever to continue our efforts to provide a fairer deal for these developing country sports ball workers whilst providing a great quality ethical alternative ball choice for UK clubs, schools and sports people.

We’d like to say a huge thanks to our customers, members and supporters over the past year, together we are making a real difference and we’ve enjoyed particularly strong support from Fair Trade Groups throughout the country. A special thanks has to go to the Scottish Fair Trade Forum for their ongoing support.

Here’s just a random few highlights from the year.

We’re very proud of our support for women’s football and the support we’ve received in return. We may not have been the ball of choice for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but we did provide the match balls for the “Old Girls World Cup” (women’s recreational football) in France in the summer. We are delighted that more and more women’s teams are playing and training with our balls.

Back in February (as well as having an awesome Fairtrade Fortnight) Lochardl Primary School fund raised to buy balls to introduce to Inverness Caledonian Thistle women’s team, and we have regular purchases from St Mirren WFC and Sheffield based AFC Unity are 100% committed to Fairtrade even going against their League and insisting on playing their home games with our balls.

Also in February we were invited to take part in a panel discussion at the Oxford Human Rights Festival and our balls even made it on to the catwalk as part of an ethical fashion show. Unfortunately the balls weren’t used in this year’s football Homeless World Cup, but we did provide the match balls for the Homeless Rugby International Cup which we believe in time will grow to have as much impact as the HWC.

Perth & Kinross Fair Trade Group were a shining example of the supporter groups by recruiting local councillors to promote the balls, and event students in Edinburgh organised an impressive indoor footy tournament for local primary schools using Fairtrade balls. Meanwhile secondary school students in Glasgow organised a very successful anti-racism footy tournament using Bala Sport balls.

As well as making an appearance in the fashion world our balls are about to appear in an international tv drama series on Netflix, having been specially requested by the production, and were the match ball for Bloody Scotland, the annual crime writers festival football match between Scottish and English crime writers.

Thanks to our friends AS Velasca, Milan’s “third team” who always use our balls, Bala Sport balls were used in a historic international match in South Africa between Velasca and Soweto Stars FC which led to a partnership with  Soweto based photographers and art directors for a photographic collaboration which we will see more of in 2020. We’ll also see more of our French Fairtrade Ambassador, football freestyler Norman Habri who has just received his 6th Guinness World Record for juggling 60 balls with 2 feet. GWR unfortunately don’t recognise Fairtrade balls so for each record he break, Norman does it again using Fairtrade balls as he is such a passionate supporter of Fairtrade sports ball workers. He has 2 more world records underway.

We are on an exciting journey to put Fairtrade sports balls on the map and make a bigger difference in the lives of the women and men in Inia and Pakistan who make our sports balls, please continue to support them through spreading the word and buying Fairtrade balls.

We must end on a huge thanks once again to Sharron Hardwick  BCA of the Fair Trade in Football & Rugby Campaign who single-handedly has done so much to raise awareness of Fairtrade sports balls on an ongoing basis throughout England and Wales. One of the highlights of Sharron’s work is the annual Fair Trade World Cup.

We wish you and all our workers a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Fair New Year.