We found Senda Athletics last summer when we featured Santiago Halty’s first-person account of his trip to Sialkot, Pakistan, where the Senda soccer balls, now sold at Designed Good, are made. Santiago’s story began way before his trip to Pakistan last summer, during his childhood in Argentina, where people live and breathe soccer. He played soccer throughout his childhood, and was perceptive enough to realize that the game was a huge part of the highly challenging act of growing up – soccer gave him and the other kids on their team confidence, discipline, and an outlet for fun.
But the way the balls themselves are made matters to Senda. Santiago began to investigate fair trade in 2009 and knew that this was the only way enterprise should work. “I decided on fair trade because I believe it is important to give back to people, and I chose soccer because it connected so many people together,” he said. “I was a bit shocked to see that a soccer ball, something that brought me so much joy, could be developed under unfair conditions.”
When Santiago visited Sialkot, he was there to make sure that the workers making the balls had fair wages, worked in a clean and healthy environment, and didn’t use child labor.
At the factory in Sialkot, the Joint Body is the group of democratically-elected workers that decides where to allocate the fair-trade premiums they receive from Senda. Santiago sat in on one of their meetings during his trip to learn about the Fair Price Shop that they are building with the premiums – a shop that offers wholesale food and affordable medication to the workers.
“You wouldn’t want the people who work so hard to be unhappy when making a product that makes so many other people happy,” Santiago said. Indeed, he said that the most important part of fair trade is the opportunity for people to make their own wages. In this way, Senda soccer balls become a means of empowerment.