It has been barely two years since its inception and already Pool4Change, an organisation established in Mitchell’s Plain in 2018, has pocketed schools across the country to become part of a project to promote cue sport among pupils.
Cue Sport is the collective term used for a variety of games using a cue stick and includes the ever popular 8-Ball pool, billiards and snooker, says founder Galiek Saville, from Montrose Park, Lentegeur.
Pool4Change has been a driving force behind a number of initiatives, among others, the establishment of a schools’ league in Mitchell’s Plain and a dedicated coaching programme.
While all sporting activity came to a halt due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Saville kept on grinding and successfully completed an internationally accredited instructor’s course offered by the Professional Billiards Instructor Association (PBIA). The PBIA accreditation course is offered by the American Online Pool School and endorsed by the Billiards Congress of America.
Saville has been on a whistle-stop tour across the country since schools reopened a few weeks ago, in mid-February, to handover pool tables and to promote the aims of the organisation.
Portland High School was the first to benefit from these handovers when they received a brand new snooker table a few weeks ago.
Pool4Change had previously donated pool tables to schools in Mitchell’s Plain and elsewhere before the pandemic halted their activities. Starting out with six schools, including Portland High, Littlewood Primary, Darul Islam Boys School, Westville Primary, Jamaica Way Primary and Fairview Primary School in Grassy Park, Pool4Change have now extended their borders beyond the Cape.
And says Saville, a bright future now awaits cue sport in township schools across the country, as the Pool4Change crew travelled to the Eastern Cape and Gauteng to spread awareness and to deliver new pool tables to schools in Port Elizabeth, New Brighton, Klerksdorp, Sedibeng and Boksburg.
“The pool tables we are installing are sponsored by the South African Confederation of Cue Sport and they are funded by the Department Of Sport and Recreation South Africa and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. We are very grateful for them as they are alongside Pool4Change,” he said.
Saville said one of the inspirations that led him to promote the sport was when he was the manager of the national team a few years ago. They were selected to represent the country at the 8-Ball World Championships, but they could not attend due to a lack funds. Despite some obstacles and a few teething problems, he says they’ve always managed to send a couple of youngsters to compete at national level but that it’s always a costly affair.
This made him realise that they will always have difficulty attending tournaments, which is why it was important to build a structure from the grassroots level, he said.
He considers completing his instructor’s certificate a big achievement and looks forward to sharing his knowledge with up and coming pool players.
“I wanted to empower myself to empower the kids. I was the first person in Africa that did this course. The guy that took me through this venture, Roy Pastor, from America, is also part of a programme called The Break and Run. All the coaching we do in this course is like a curriculum in cue sport. Our kids and cue sport players will be taught the right way from the start. This is a huge opportunity for our people,” he said.
Saville said he wants to introduce the sport and create a safe environment for children to play.
“For youngsters it is easy to join when you are at school. You can just ask the teacher or sports teacher to assist you. For older people they can contact me or one of the Pool4Change team or executive members and we will guide them in the process,” he said.
“We have a lot of youngsters that have the capacity for the sport, but the don’t have the back up to go the next level. All we wanted to do was to make a change, even if we just changed one life, we would have made a difference, we would have done something for the sport. I’m proud to say that currently we have more than 150 schools in our programme.”
Hilton Adams, the owner of Pool International, in Colorado Park, where the Pool4Change Academy is based, said he’s happy to see the sport grow.
Adams is also the chairman of the Ikapa Pool Federation and vice chairman of the Cape Metro 8-Ball District. He said he took over the venue after the young players were left in the lurch when previous owner left.
“I took the initiative to reopen the place as I’ve been involved with 8-Ball pool for the past 28 years. So many things have happened, so many things have changed. We joined forces with Pool4Change to let the sport grow. Pool4Change is the development structure for the South African Confederation of Cue Sport, the governing body of the sport and we’re there to support their efforts,” he said.
Call 071 328 6450 for more information.