Footy’s Child Labourers

The football’s Australian children punt, pass and catch in weekend games are stitched by India’s Footy's Child Labourerspoorest children, the same age, who work in appalling, dangerous and illegal conditions for as little as seven cents a ball.

THE footballs Australian children punt, pass and mark in weekend games are stitched by India’s poorest children, working in appalling, dangerous and illegal conditions to earn as little as 7 a ball.

A 12-month investigation by The Saturday Age has discovered that despite reforms to India’s massive but poorly regulated sports ball industry, children are still working in the painful hand-stitching of footballs, netballs and soccer balls.

Sunali, 11 and her sister Rupa, 10, stitch Sherrin Auskick balls while their mother, Laxmi, cares for their infant sister.

The children who sew Sherrin and Canterbury balls are employed unofficially, through subcontractors who pay them for each ball stitched.

Soccer balls or netballs, with more panels, pay up to 28 rupees (about 49 ) for three or four hours’ work, while the cheapest, smallest, footballs pay as little as four rupees (about 7 ).

The children The Saturday Age discovered stitching sit hunched on low stools for between five and eight hours a day, six or seven days a week.

But across Punjab’s industrial cities, The Saturday Age discovered children, almost all of them girls, and as young as seven, who have been pulled out of school to work in secret, stitching sports balls full-time.

Eleven-year-old Sunali sits in her family’s one-room home in the same suburb as Ruby, stitching Sherrin Auskick footballs with her sister Rupa, 10, and mother Laxmi.

The Saturday Age finds her at home on a school day, sewing a Canterbury rugby ball.

Full Story: Footy’s Child Labourers

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