22 January 2019
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Lack of sporting equipment breeds creativity

Written by  Watson Maingo
GAME TIME: Banda, with the pool stick, and colleagues have their own 'pool' table - Pic by Watson Maingo GAME TIME: Banda, with the pool stick, and colleagues have their own 'pool' table - Pic by Watson Maingo

Mangochi, August 05, 2018: With a stick each and pushing small round-shaped fruits on a base made of bricks and mud, James Meya and Innocent Vincent look satisfied with what they have done for their village.

The two, both aged 13 years, have developed an improvised table for a pool game using locally available resources in their home village, Kasanga in Mangochi.

“We decided to create a game that would keep us busy and prevent us from spending our precious time working for fishermen at the lake,” says Meya, the brain behind this innovative idea.

Armed with bricks, mud, an old mosquito net and tubes from old automobile tyres, the duo built a pool table based on the real design which Meya saw on his last trip to Monkey-Bay.

“I was attracted with how the game is played,” Meya says.

When he presented the idea to his friend Vincent, they agreed to have a similar game of their own in the village.

With bricks and mud, the two boys built the base and a full structure that resembles the modern pool table, with the usual six ball pockets

An old mosquito net is used as linen for the table’s floor while the pieces of rubber from the tyre’ tubes serve as cushion around the inside edges to help the solid balls bounce back.

For the cue balls, they pick fruits from a wild tree locally called matho, which they mark properly for easy identification.

As it is with modern pool, the balls are marked as solids and stripes, with a separate ball marked in white colour.

The game is played using the current international pool rules and regulations and most children in Kasanga have now found something to keep them busy.

Located about 60 kilometres from Mangochi Town in Traditional Authority Nankumba, Kasanga Village is one of the most under developed places off the coast of Lake Malawi.

Like most far-flung areas, access to modern equipment for sporting activities such as soccer, chess, draught and pool is hard.

This unfortunate situation fails many youths in realising their potential in various games. As a result, they end up pursuing activities risky to their lives and education.

“Because of lack of games, most children spend more time at the beach with fishermen where they are exposed to drinking alcohol, smoking and other adult materials,” says Meya.

He adds that the lure for quick money through piece works at the lake becomes addictive such that many children fail to go back to school.

This is one of the reasons the two boys decided to come up with this improvised game of pool.

“At first, it was a childish kind of idea and most people still think that what we have is childish play,” says Vincent.

“But to us, it is a game that we have created and it is entertaining. It keeps us together and away from bad behaviors.”

Since the development of this improvised table, many children in the area have adopted the idea and established their own tables for pool game.

“I can say that now young ones are better off than before. They have the game in their homes and it is keeping them busy,” says Meya, a standard six learner at St. Louis Primary School