Thursday, September 24, 2009

The making of a Football, and not just any football

Step 1: Find any excuse to go the the Football Factory. This one happens to be a great one located in Lusaka's light industrial zone. Our excuse? "United Against Malaria." Shameless bit of promotion: United Against Malaria is a partnership of footballers, non-governmental organizations, foundations, governments, corporations and people like you who have joined forces ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to unite in the fight against malaria. By acting now, we can achieve unprecedented increases in mosquito net coverage across Africa to save millions of lives by the next World Cup in 2014. For just $10 or £5, less than the cost of a football/soccer ball, we can protect a mother and child for five years
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Step 2: Make nice with Mara, one of the managering directors for "Alive and Kicking." Second bit of shameless promotions: Alive & Kicking (a UK based NGO) makes high quality durable footballs, netballs and volleyballs in Africa using African skills and leather. Alive and Kicking employs over 150 Stitchers across three countries and have produced over 180,000 balls for children across Africa. Each ball carries a message on AIDS, malaria or TB.

Step 3: Get some leather: cut, dry and prepare it. This leather comes from zambian cows and is processed by a zambian company, Zamleather (who also run ZamShu, ZamBeef, ZamEverything) and is processed on the spot.

Step 4: Prepare and split the leather, add the canvas backing and send it to this guy for cutting

Step 5: Send the cut pieces (6 sided and 5 sided) to the silkscreening room, where this guy (below) will hand screen the pieces (for 'Save the Children' in this instance).

Step 6: Head to the stitching room

Step 7: collect your other equipment: thread,

and wax.

Step 8: Comb the thread, wax the thread, and thread the needle

Step 9: Start stitching

keep stitching

and stitching

until you are almost done, then turn it right side out, put in the air bladder (theirs come from India the only bit that is not local in these balls)

Step 10: Stitch the ball closed

Real leather, size 5, handstitched, made in Zambia.
We had a small batch of balls printed - it took 4 days (from when we asked to when we got them) and cost about kw73,000 per ball (around $14)

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