High flying Dulwich Hamlet FC have made an impressive new signing off the pitch in the form of Fairtrade ball manufacturer, Bala Sport.

Bala will supply balls for selected matches and all training sessions at the club with the official launch of the partnership taking place on Saturday 2nd April.

The balls, launched at Hampden Park last February, first gained exposure on the pitch last summer when FC United of Manchester played Benfica B in a friendly, but this is the first deal that Bala has struck with a senior English football club.

The deal will last for three years and will cover first team, reserve and youth academy matches wherever possible, as well as training sessions across the board.

Workers producing Bala balls in factories in Sialkot, Pakistan, are paid a fair rate, work in safe conditions and enjoy the right to trade union representation. The extra Fairtrade Premium they receive from the sale of Bala balls provides free healthcare and other benefits. The more of Bala’s Fairtrade footballs that are bought, the more workers benefit.

First team Manager and Head of the club’s player development partner Aspire, Gavin Rose, commented: “Dulwich Hamlet is a Club that does things the right way, and we were only too pleased to agree this deal.

“What Bala has produced under fair working conditions is as good as anything out there in the market. And if it’s good enough for Benfica, it’s good enough for Dulwich Hamlet.”

150 uniquely designed Bala Play commemorative footballs in the Dulwich Hamlet colours of pink and blue have also been produced, and will be on sale from the 19th April through the club shop.

The balls display detail including the Club, Supporters’ Trust and Aspire logos, pointing towards plans by stadium owners and club custodians Hadley Property Group to transfer the Club into fan ownership, bring the Aspire youth Academy to Champion Hill and provide a new stadium for the club and local community.

Local playground and charity, the Dog Kennel Hill Adventure Playground, will benefit to the tune of 50% of the profits from the sale of the specially designed footballs.

The money will fund a new swing for the playground, which has operated for over 40 years on a site near Champion Hill. It is a free open access adventure playground for local children and young people between the ages of eight and sixteen.

Duncan Hart, Chair of Dulwich Hamlet Supporters Trust, said: “We love what Bala Sport are doing, especially as being owned by their members, they share our values. It fits with the way we do things now, and how we want to do them in the future at a supporter-owned Dulwich Hamlet FC.”

Angus Coull, Joint MD at Bala Sport said: “It’s a fantastically simple thing that Bala Sport does: we put the men and women in Pakistan who make our balls first, paying them fairly for the work they do and giving them the rights at work that we all enjoy.

“With the benefits of the extra Fairtrade cash Premium we pay they can look forward to a brighter future for their families. Football is in need of good news stories.

“At grassroots levels there are so many exciting and positive stories taking place which struggle to get exposure in the shadow of the Premier League.

“This partnership with Dulwich Hamlet, a club which shares so many of our own values, is a great example of the good that football can do – and how its reach is almost unparalleled.”

Source: www.fcbusiness.co.uk

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