Fair Trade In Football Campaign
MEET THE FOUNDER: Sharron Hardwick
Founder Sharron Hardwick says...
" There are four f’s that are highly significant in my life: Faith, Family, Football and Fairtrade!
Over the past few years I have found a way where I can enjoy all four…
I have been watching Stoke City play since I was ten; sold programmes at the Victoria Ground as a teenager, and currently work as a match day steward (even though I now live in Pembrokeshire!).
One thing I can not stand in football is unfairness; it ruins games, even seasons; but what most people are not aware of is that it also ruins lives.
As we watch the multi-billion pound games, with highly paid players, we do not see the struggles of the hard-working people who make the game possible….the football stitchers.
Thousands of football stitchers hand stitch 4 to 5 footballs a day, in football production capital Pakistan, mainly in a village called Sialkot. The industry was rife with child labour, so in 1998 most of the production was moved to factories in an attempt to eradicate this.
Unfortunately, this produced problems for mothers, as they had children to care for, so they could no longer work. Reports that people are Paid less than a living wage, families are trapped in poverty, with reports of stitchers receiving as little as 20p per ball see www.thefaircorp.com/blog/
Poverty restricts the football stitching families, if they can't pay the fees, their children can not go to school; decent accommodation, food and medical care are out of reach...it's just not fair!
I mentioned Faith – Jesus said “Love your neighbour”
As I stood watching Stoke City play, I couldn’t help but think…
“How can I love my neighbour and keep quiet about this?”
So, I started the Fair Trade In Football Campaign."
I found out that Jamie Lloyd, co-founder of Fair Corp, took action to change this atrocity and organised the first production of Fairtrade footballs.
Later Bala Sport was founded, a co-operative set up to expand the availability and use of ethically produced Fairtrade sports balls (focusing initially on footballs) in the UK and beyond. The Fairtrade Mark is the most widely recognised ethical label globally and trusted by 89% of UK consumers.
A key role of this co-operative is to raise awareness of the issues around Fairtrade sports balls and how they help make a difference in the lives of some of the estimated 40,000 sports balls workers in Sialkot, Pakistan (where around 70% of the world’s hand-stitched balls are made).
When a high-quality Fairtrade certified football is sold in the UK the buyer is guaranteed that the men and women who make these hand stitched products are paid a fair wage and benefit from fair working conditions and also the additional Fairtrade Premium.
This is a cash sum used for social, economic and environmental development projects decided upon through a democratic process and typically include free healthcare and educational projects for workers and their families and the wider community.
One of the key aims of Bala Sport is to ensure that in future the amount of Fairtrade Premium benefiting sports ball workers in Pakistan will rise significantly.
This is been life changing for the stitchers, their families and communities.
In 2012 Rt. Honourable First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, highly commended the campaign:
Since 2013 Stoke City’s Media Manager, Colin Burgess, has been very supportive. He organised official photographs to be used in schools and lots of Fairtrade footballs to be signed by 1st team SCFC players. Colin arranged for me to meet the first team players. As a result, Brek Shea judged our Design A Logo Competition, with hundreds of Pembrokeshire young people taking part.
I met Stoke City's Jonathan Walters (SJW) who was photographed with Fairtrade Footballs and spoke at length to former Stoke striker Cameron Jerome who was very interested, showing support for Fair Trade in Football.
FAIR TRADE WORLD CUP 2014
2014′s World Cup led to further opportunities in Pembrokeshire,
Carmarthenshire and Staffordshire schools via the first ever Fair Trade World Cup.
Organised by myself as the Fair Trade In Football Campaign founder, supported by
Fair Trade Wales, the Fair Trade World Cup was launched to offer schools and organisations, ideas and activities to link Fairtrade, football and the World Cup.
Interestingly I found that 12 of the 32 World Cup 2014 qualifiers are listed as Fairtrade Producer Countries on the: Fairtrade International Map.
In Pembrokeshire 12 schools signed up to play against each other in The Fair Trade World Cup, Fairtrade Football Finals. Each school have drawn a Fairtrade Producer country which their team of 5 players and 2 substitutes will represent in the Finals.
Building on this involvement with Stoke City Football Club, when player Brek Shea, judged the campaign’s Design a Logo Competition, I met Stoke City’s Kicks Participation Manager Ben Gibson.
Ben was planning his own Kick’s World Cup 5 A Side Tournament with 32 Staffordshire Schools. His keen support of the Fair Trade In Football Campaign positively influenced Stoke City, who have agreed to use Fairtrade footballs in the Kick’s tournament.
This has opened doors of opportunity for the campaign to be publicised in Staffordshire and national press, including Sky, as First Team Stoke City and Port Vale Players partook in the Kick’s World Cup Draw, they were photographed with Fairtrade footballs. The Fair Trade In Football Campaign logo featured on all of the publicity, advertising banners and official SCFC website linked to the Kick’s World Cup.
The Tenby Observer, The Western Telegraph and Radio Pembrokeshire and UCB Radio have also featured the Fair Trade In Football Campaign – they are a great and valued support. I hope other schools, teams, players and clubs will get on board with your help too!
Additional footballs have been bought thanks to the Fair Trade Wales’ grant scheme, with
promotional materials, including the new logo design, in the hope to help take the campaign further.
Since 2015 we have seen support for Fairtrade in football growing and we hope to see lots more people playing Fairtrade football.
See the LATEST NEWS HERE
The best thing about football is that lots of people watch, play and love it.
If you are involved with schools, clubs or as an individual, you can get involved.
You can buy Fairtrade Footballs from BALA SPORT, you can raise awareness about Fairtrade footballs, organise Fairtrade matches or tournaments and encourage others to get involved.
The aim of the campaign is to one day see all footballs produced to Fairtrade standards.
We hope that by gaining further support from schools, clubs, organisations and individuals we can strive to attain this. But this is a big aim, and we need your help to achieve this!
Every little step is a step closer. Ball by ball we can begin to change things, guarantee fairness, improve lives and kick out injustice!
Please check out the latest news and join us by learning about, using and promoting Fairtrade sports balls because
together we can make a difference.