The things players like Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo can make a football do have made them millions. But the people who made those footballs will get pennies. We think that can’t be right. We also believe that we can’t wait for FIFA, or national FAs to do something about it as they’re dependent on the money from the sports manufacturers who pay poverty pay to make a sport worth billions possible. It’s time for us to do something about it ourselves - through fairtrade footballs.
We want to ensure that the men and women who make our balls are paid a fair wage and work in acceptable conditons. By setting up Bala Sport, an organisation that will bring Fairtrade sports balls to schools, sports clubs and hgh streets of the UK, we are able to do this.
Football, our national game, is in a state of disrepute with allegations of corruption at the global governing body FIFA and alarming numbers of deaths among World Cup construction workers in Qatar. Yet a surge in fan ownership of clubs means the time has never been better to bring about change in what is supposed to be the beautiful game. It's time now to show fairness and respect, not only to the players and fans of the game, but also to the men and women who craft that crucial piece of kit - the ball!!. That's where Bala Sport, and hopefully YOU come in.
Although child labour has largely been removed from the sports ball industry, working conditions continue to be unacceptable. In 2012 the Sydney Morning Herald uncovered child labour in promotional balls being made in India for the AFL.
The best quality footballs are hand-stitched. Each ball takes around three hours to stitch and the precision work using large needles while hunched on a stool can take its toll on health. The stitchers are paid around 60 pence per ball and many struggle to pay for medicine and to send their kids to school.
Fairtrade certification ensures that there is no child or enforced labour in the manufacturing process. Workers employed at Fairtrade certified factories enjoy safe working conditions and have access to union representation.
We need to change the game for sports balls workers in Pakistan. We have set a target to raise £150,000. This will allow us to expand the range of Bala Sport balls on offer and deliver an increasing marketing campaign over the next five years, resulting in a four fold increase of sales. Increased sales will enable us to consistently place sizeable orders with our Fairtrade certified factories. This way the workers and hand stitchers will receive a fair rate of pay in fair and safe working conditions. The additional 10% Fairtrade Premium we pay per ball is spent on investment in democratically agreed social development projects such as free healthcare and education and water purifaction plants.
As a democratically run Community Benefit Society we are reaching out to ethical investors, Fairtrade supporters and like-minded individuals and organisations who share a desire to change the game and make sure that workers can look forward to a brighter, fairer, future. Meeting our target of £150,000 will allow us to pre order and hold a greater number of balls in stock to ensure that balls are available year round when clients require them.
Already we have had a commitment from fellow co-operative, FC United of Manchester who used our Bala Pro match ball in their friendly against the might Benfica at the opening of their new stadium, Broadhurst Park. FCUM Ladies team also uses Bala balls in their training and games.
Your investment will help cover our costs while we expand the core team and the range of Bala balls in the brand. The biggest capital cost in running our co-operative is the pre-purchase of stock to ensure supply can meet demand.We are working to add rugby and futsal balls to the range in the coming months with a plan to add net and volleyballs in 2016.
Focus on the sales and marketing side will be with ethical and Fairtrade consumers alongside schools, colleges and universities. We need to get the message accross through events, PR and advertising and also through sponsorship.
This is a chance for us to change the game and level the playing field for ball workers in Pakistan. With the one member, one vote system all investors will have a say in how the organisation is run and an invitation to attend our AGM. You also have the chance to sit on the board. You'll have the kudos in being part of an ethical sports ball co-operative and you'll be empowered to make a difference in peoples' lives. Plus, as this is a new buiness, HMRC have confirmed that investors can set 50% of the cost of their shares against tax under the Government's Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Additionally, depending on the reward level you choose, you can get some pretty cool rewards. These include Bala footballs, exclusive t-shirts, a session with Scottish Pro Freestyler David Mennie, a match at the new FC United of Manchester ground with tour and hospitality and even the opportunity to visit our Fairtrade factories in Pakistan. Rewards, listed opposite, are limited so make sure you get in quickly.
The founding directors of the board came together through their shared passion of Fairtrade principles and a strong desire to make a change. With a diverse spectrum of business backgrounds we are able to bring a wide and varied skill set including expertise in finance, retail sales, marketing and communication and sports club facilitation. Our board comprises:
Martin Meteyard (Chair): Co-operative business consultant, former chair of CafeDirect plc and The Scottish Fair Trade Forum.
Hugh Donnelly (Treasurer): Director of Co-operative Education Trust Scotland and Sectretary of Glasgow Fairtrade.
Annie Howie (Joint Managing Director): Independant business constultant, former Head of Energy Derivatives at Credit Lyonnais.
Angus Coull (Joint Managing Director) : TV production director, former Marketing and Communications Director of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand.
Andrew Jenkin: Acting CEO of Supporters Direct Scotland.
Martin Stepek: CEO Scottish Family Business Association.
Kevin McCulloch: Joint Head of Campaigns, the Fairtrade Foundation.
Yes, as long as they are over 11 years of age. For every £10 you invest you will get one share and the minimum investment is £50. We've already had schools investing and we really look forward to hearing the views and ideas from the representatives of the hundreds of pupils at these schools. If you care about sport and people and want to help make the world a better place for sports balls workers please join us and change the game.
Risk Warning Funding pitches through Crowdfunder.co.uk carries some risk. There is no guarantee for members making donations that any reward offered will be delivered. Equally, when members invest in community shares the capital they invest is at risk and they may not get back what they put in. Rewards based crowdfunding and the sale of community shares are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, nor covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Click here to read more about the risks.