The Founder's Story

Mr. Nihal Chand Kharabanda (NCK), born 15th October 1908, was second in line of seven sons of a small grocery store owner, Hari Chand Kharbanda and Veerawali, living in 28 Chak Village near Layalpur, now Faislabad. He achieved the distinction of studying up to 10th standard in the British Indian school system and set out to explore his world.


Fortunate and proud to get a job as an assistant store keeper in Uberoi and Company started by Mr. Ganda Singh Uberoi, the founder of sports industry of India and Pakistan, NCK started his career with the salary of mere Rs. 30 per month. That job took him to various branches of Uberoi and Company in Sialkot, Pune and Rangoon, enabling him to gain work experience and learn the sports trade. With strong belief in his abilities and burning passion to succeed, in 1934 at the age of 26, he took a leap of faith to start his own small business to trade raw materials in the now flourishing sports manufacturing trade in Sialkot.

The Freewill Story

Determined to start his own small business, he had revealed his plans to his immediate boss at Uberoi and Company and to his friend Mr. Kartar Singh Bhaizada. On asking Mr. Bhaizada for his advice on what to name his new company, Mr. Bhaizada quipped," as if you would agree to anyone's suggestion, you are a man of your own Free will, do what you like".

"Freewill....that sounds interesting. That would be the name of my company,"NCK replied and that is how Freewill & Co started in 1934 as a trading firm.

In 1947, India got independence from Britain and was divided into two separate countries: India and Pakistan. Leaving Sialkot, which was now in Pakistan, he along with his wife Lajwanti and a seven year old son Vijay arrived in Mumbai seeking shelter at his younger brother Sant Ram Kharabanda house, an officer in the revenue department of Government of British India.

Determined to start his own small business, he had revealed his plans to his immediate boss at Uberoi and Company and to his friend Mr. Kartar Singh Bhaizada. On asking Mr. Bhaizada for his advice on what to name his new company, Mr. Bhaizada quipped," as if you would agree to anyone's suggestion, you are a man of your own Free will, do what you like".

"Freewill....that sounds interesting. That would be the name of my company,"NCK replied and that is how Freewill & Co started in 1934 as a trading firm.

In 1947, India got independence from Britain and was divided into two separate countries: India and Pakistan. Leaving Sialkot, which was now in Pakistan, he along with his wife Lajwanti and a seven year old son Vijay arrived in Mumbai seeking shelter at his younger brother Sant Ram Kharabanda house, an officer in the revenue department of Government of British India.

The Brand Story

Mr. Vijay Kharabanda, the founder of NIVIA was a visionary and patriarch, whose boundless ambition and deep sense of passion led him to establish one of the most successful Indian Sports Brands in history.

1960's : Kolkata, not Jalandhar was the center in India where quality footballs were manufactured before NIVIA came onto the horizon. He established NIVIA and with that the reputation of Jalandhar as the quality football, volleyball and basketball manufacturing base.

1970's : When women empowerment and equal rights were not even an issue, he opened training centers to impart skill to women to stitch sports balls so that they could supplement their household income. Today, it is estimated that 60% of thousands of craftsmen stitching football are women.

1980's : While the world had moved to rubber and plastics in football shoes, Indian footballers were still playing in leather studs. He launched the first successful plastic sole shoe in the Country called NIVIA Low Cut. This revolutionized the Indian Football shoe market and soon Jalandhar became the center for shoe manufacturing. With less than 1% share in the Indian football shoe market in 1980, today Punjab is estimated to produce 90% of all football shoes Made in India.

1990's He established the first successful molded ball unit in the Sports City of Jalandhar. Which today is the largest manufacturer of molded balls in the country. The town which had no history of molded ball manufacturing then, today boasts of half a dozen established and upcoming plants which would enhance India's export and widen the range that Indian exporters can offer to the world.

2000's Under his leadership, NIVIA was the first Indian company to get FIFA approval for its footballs. When the entire industry had surrendered to imported material for making footballs, he took up the challenge to upgrade the local rubber material to global standards. NIVIA today, is probably the only company in the world which has been successful in getting FIFA PRO marking on a football made of rubber.

His undaunted resolve that enabled him to break past every obstacle and his ideals of giving love and help at any cost leave behind a legacy that will guide us in every endeavour and help work upon the solid foundations that he left behind.

The company today is headed by Rajesh, the second of Vijay & Sushil's four children, and is married to Divya who is the daughter of a retired Brigadier of the Indian Army. They live in Jalandhar with their two sons Dhruv and Ojas.

Dhruv researched the roots of the sports industry in India and Ojas curated the idea of the Sports Heritage Museum of India, which is now located at the Head Office of the company.

Both the boys study in the colleges in US and plan to continue the legacy as fourth generation custodians of the name Freewill and NIVIA.