Despite not being close to one of the 32 teams participating in the ongoing FIFA World Cup, Pakistan still has representation in the tournament in the form of “Al Rihla”, the official football being used in the biggest sporting event of the year. 

Meaning ” The Journey” the match ball is emblematic of Qatar’s decade-long endeavour of meeting the world’s expectations after being doubted of rising to the occasion after being handed the duties in 2010.

Thus began a frantic overhaul of every aspect of the country which spent, in some reports, over $300 billion in readying the world cup stadiums and the other infrastructure needed to host a reported 1.5 million visitors in a country of fewer than 3 million inhabitants.

Pakistan was one of the several countries which lent Qatar the labour force needed to build the promised goods, an issue which continues to Mar the event even after its inception, but the hosts also entrusted Pakistan with delivering the most important article needed for the World Cup, the Al Rihla football.

Sialkot-based Forward Sports, in partnership with a Chinese manufacturer, has provided FIFA with one-third of at least 300,000 match balls for the event but has a 70% share of the replicas that will be sold.

As is always the case, more than one manufacturer was selected to overcome any mishaps.

The 2022 World Cup marks the third straight event that Forward Sports has produced football’s for the tournament after also doing so in 2014 and 2018.

With Pakistan ranked 194th in Men’s rankings and the Women’s team ranked 160th in the world, it is unlikely we will get to see the Green Shirts taking the field on the biggest stage despite the expansion to 48 teams the next time.

Until then, our only solace is watching the best players in the world using our country’s product in making their magic happen.

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