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A Shared History, A Shared Future: Behind the Game

Shared History Shared Future
A Shared History, A Shared Future celebrates 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade.
Community based groups have been exploring the ways in which slavery in all its forms throughout history has operated, and how it relates to our lives in Birmingham.

Behind the Game

A project with Christchurch

By 2008, England were out of the European Cup, but still with a chance at the World Cup 2010. What that got to do with slavery? At the last World Cup FIFA found itself in hot water again, because the balls it used were being produced by children in Pakistan.

Christchurch Year 5 are interested in football, and as we started to explore slavery, it was clear that within the production of footballs hid a story of child labour. One in eight children across the world are employed in child labour. In Sialkot in the Punjab, Pakistan, where many of the world footballs are manufactured, only one third of children under eleven attend school at all. Of those most are paying for their education by stitching footballs.

Children, sometimes as young as four, punch holes and stitch. Investigators reported that 'many suffer from eyesight problems from focusing intensively in dark rooms for long hours... twisted fingers from pulling on the string' and 'back problems from sitting in the same position for long periods'.

The group worked with artists Sandra Taylor, Tom Holness and John Hill-Daniel to make their own video performance relating the story of the production of goods like footballs in Pakistan, how we bear some responsibility for the conditions of children making our footballs and what we can do about it.

Find out more about the other projects under the A Shared History, A Shared Future banner.