One local company is introducing locally-made leather soccer balls on the national market with view to take the new product beyond the borders and across the oceans.
The development is a far cry and milestone from traditional ‘karere’ balls made from dried banana fibre.
Inspired by the karere, the new leather balls are made by Abanozamurimo Company Ltd, based in Kibeho Sector of Nyaruguru District, a company that was founded with an aim of making shoes in line with the Made-in-Rwanda initiative.
However, this year, the company embarked on producing balls for different sporting disciplines, including soccer, handball and volleyball, that are already popular in primary and secondary schools in the district, according to Emmanuel Simugomwa, the head of the company.
“We started with producing shoes, belts, and bags but, earlier this year, we ventured into sports where we make balls for different disciplines. Most of the schools near our factory no longer purchase balls from anywhere else,” says Simugomwa.
Speaking to The New Times at his stand in the just-ended Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Expo Grounds, he said that though the company and its premier sports products remain relatively unknown, they plan to approach Rwanda Football Federation (FERWAFA) to test the standards so that they can supply the national league.
“Kibeho soccer team now uses our balls. We recently approached one team in the national league from Southern Province and gave them just one sample ball. They okayed our product and, hopefully, they will help us as we lobby FERWAFA to adopt the balls in the league,” he added.
According to the world football governing body, FIFA, any manufacturer must first enter into a licensing agreement to use the prestigious FIFA Quality Pro and FIFA Quality Marks on balls after they have gone through a rigorous testing procedure.
“Big football clubs in the country should know about our ball and stop buying imported ones which are even expensive compared to ours. Some even complain that those imported ball do not last long. Our ball has shown potential within the schools in Nyaruguru,” Simugomwa said.