While the UEFA European Championships is underway in France, a group of football fans from East Ayrshire in Scotland is promoting sports balls traded fairly by a co-operative style organisation. Through the initiative, locals have the opportunity to get involved in football sessions and tournaments as well as find out more about Fairtrade.
The sessions give clubs the opportunity to try out Bala Sport Fairtrade footballs whilst also bringing people together to talk about where they were made and by whom.
Charles Sim, chair of the East Ayrshire Fair Trade Group said: “With this project, we want to harness the excitement and energy around events such as the Euros and encourage everyone to try out Fairtrade footballs.
“We also want to make clubs and groups realise that they have enormous power as consumers. We want them to ask questions about the things they buy as individuals and for their groups: from the coffee they sell on match day to the football strips they wear.
“Sport, particularly football, is a brilliant way to lead into discussions about Fairtrade and the wider ethical issues around consumption.”
The project launch coincided with the start of the Euros with the involvement of the North West Walking Football Group in Kilmarnock. The event featured a practical Fairtrade football session, which was run with young people from the employability charity Street League Ayrshire. The launch was also an opportunity for participants to learn more about Bala Sport footballs and Fairtrade in general.
Bala Sports was set up as a community benefit society in 2014 to expand the availability and use of Fairtrade sports balls. Around 70% of the world’s hand-stitched balls are made by 40,000 workers in Sialkot, Pakistan. The Fairtrade certification is a guarantee that these workers are paid a fair wage and work in fair conditions. They also receive the Fairtrade Premium, which they can use for social, economic and environmental development projects.
Colleen Tait from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum said: “The sessions have worked well when we have been able to make the connection between Fairtrade and local issues.
“For example, with Street League, all the young people are looking for jobs so we talked about what they expect in terms of fair wages and working conditions when looking for work, and the fact that people in other countries who are manufacturing the products we buy should also be entitled to these basic rights.”