By Santiago Halty
As a lover of Fair Trade and soccer, returning from a 10-day trip from Pakistan last May was essentially seeing my dream come full-circle. The city of Sialkot, which produces a majority of the world’s soccer balls, houses the factory where my company, Senda Athletics, makes its Fair Trade soccer balls.
During my trip, I got to see firsthand the impact of Fair Trade. Fair Trade allows people to improve their lives utilizing their own skills, and while charity can be helpful, it’s ultimately more rewarding knowing that they earn their own income. Fair Trade is a common concept with edibles like coffee, chocolate, and tea, but many are less familiar with how the concept can be applied to manufactured goods. I want to bring my experiences back home and show everyone how much of an impact buying a fair trade soccer ball has on other people.
During my trip, I communicated with some of the workers and heard some of their stories. Many of the workers had dreams and aspirations for their children. They all just want to help their children receive a good education. Another project suggestion by the Joint Body was to create educational scholarships and provide the children with backpacks and school supplies in the future. I was glad to see that the factory was not using child labor, they were working in clean and safe conditions, and that people went home after working from the early morning to the late afternoon.
Ultimately, my goal with Senda is to “humanize” the aspect of where we get our products, specifically soccer balls, from. Some companies merely see their workers as inputs, and they forget the human aspect of it all. It was an uplifting experience to see people directly benefiting from our fair trade premiums. I got to see the Joint Body’s Fair Price Shop where food staples were being sold at wholesale prices. I also got the chance to hear about the Joint Body’s upcoming project of providing affordable medicine in the Fair Price Shop.
Fair Trade is not just a movement, but a life lesson that everyone should learn. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, especially among the young people that play it. Fair trade is a lifestyle that should be taught to these players while they are still young. Ultimately, I want to establish fair trade as not just an option, but rather a standard.
Now, I want to share this story of empowerment through Fair Trade and soccer with others! To do so, I just launched an Indiegogo campaign to make a short documentary, “Senda: Soccer’s Path to Fair Trade” about this trip, how Senda came to be, and our nonprofit soccer partners.
Santiago Halty is the founder and CEO of Senda Athletics, a fair trade soccer ball company based in the Bay Area, California. He is a supporter of fair trade and a believer in sports for social development.