Pool: Cool or not cool for schools?

Kenneth Odong is the U23 African champion from the Hawley Cup. School competitions can help discover more young talent. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE 

What you need to know:

Cue sports, where pool belongs, are skill games with different versions such as 8-ball, 9-ball, and 10-ball or Heyball, among others.

The new Pool Association of Uganda (PAU) is exploring possibilities of adding pool in school sports activities. It’s not completely an alien idea as schools look for options to fulfill requirements of the new competence-based curriculum but pool must overcome key obstacles.

Cue sports, where pool belongs, are skill games with different versions such as 8-ball, 9-ball, and 10-ball or Heyball, among others.

Pool is a popular game in Uganda which requires a table, two players with a mission to clear the balls on the table. A stick (cue) is used to hit the balls by each player using the white (cueball).


Pool and other cue sports are social games which don’t require too much physical activity but help to build focus, concentration, dexterity, and social skills. Academic experts and writers confirm that some recreational activities such as pool are a great way to destress and recharge energy especially for students.

Sandrah Nakyanzi is a passionate player who completed A-Level last December.

"It's a game I have played to de-stress and prove to others that I can. If it has a proper pathway to international events, I would play it competitively," Nakyanzi, who also plays football, said.

Pool helps the students to practice strategy, focus, planning and making moves to win the goal. As much as the game requires patience to be on the winning side, it takes a lot of concentration to beat the opponent.

For every shot in pool, you need to focus on how you hold the cue stick as well as the angle at which your shot would be successful. It therefore helps to build critical thinking and attention to small details.

Pool Association of Uganda members tasked with getting pool into school sports activities. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE 

Mathnasium, an online Math learning hub explains that understanding the underlying rules of geometry, trigonometry, and physics, will help you sink a ball into the pocket.

Proper body position, including the angle of the elbow, and the distance of the hand from the end of the cue stick improves accuracy. Playing pool also helps one to stretch out certain muscle groups such as the arms and upper body.

Kyaddondo SS, located in Kiryagonja village, Matugga, Wakiso District, is among the pioneer schools willing to take up the sport. The school is establishing itself as a sports powerhouse embracing rare sports such as hockey and kabaddi.

“At Kyaddondo SS we believe in introducing as many sports to children so that they get a first-hand experience of everything possible. When the time is right, pool will be made a part of the school’s indoor games schedule,” said Fred Mugerwa, the deputy head teacher.

Learning aid

Playing pool is an after-school/work ritual usually associated with such places as pubs and bars.

“We want to build independent young people that can take this sport forward,” Mugerwa noted.

Pool tables can be established at schools for education, competition and recreation.

Former National Champion Alfred Gumikiriza aka Blacksheep, is a member of the Schools and Institutions Committee of PAU.

For most of the people playing pool, they learned from peers. Through this type of cycle, many players have mastered the art of the game.

Gumikiriza, the immediate former national captain, admitted he and his friends used to skip school to go play pool at local pool tables in Kajjansi during his formative years. He was introduced to the game by friends.

Gumikiriza said that promoting the already-popular game in the high schools is appealing.

“It would be fun to travel to the other schools and make a name for your school. But there are opportunities to play at junior international events, which presents the athletes an opportunity to represent their country,” said Gumikiriza.

PAU aims to create a network of qualified coaches to grow participation in the sport and mentor the next generation of pool champions.

“The starting point is to promote knowledge and training as integral components for the growth of our great sport and for the success and enjoyment of the players,” Akampa said. “As the sport grows, there’s a need for qualified teaching professionals in mental and emotional skills.”

Akampa said they will work with PAU to set up a process through which recognised coaching schemes can be adopted.

He stressed that coaching programmes will put emphasis on safeguarding and child protection training.

“It’s our mandate to support the coaching of our sport across the country. Through the coaching process we can offer support to enhance coaching, in particular the promotion of the safety of children,” he added.

To other educators, the challenge lies elsewhere. Schools are seeking opportunities that can help their children shine. Pool table equipment is expensive with the cheapest table going for as much as Shs2m.

“There needs to be a way of helping schools acquire equipment at affordable terms,” Prossy Nankya, the sports teacher of Mpoma Girls, said.


Pool was successfully introduced to the Inter-University Games schedule in 2019 as a demonstration game before it was allowed to score on the medal chart in 2023. The Schools and Institutions Committee is now working hard to introduce pool in schools to provide a pathway and a pool of talent that can be scouted by the universities.

“We’d like to see as many young people as possible get involved. So this can give children a place to go where they can compete and have a good time doing it,” said Pius Akampa, a city lawyer, the chairman of the Schools and Institutions Committee.

He plans to help organise school pool programs, as well as competition among the schools with a major event planned this year.

But Akampa is aware that the word “pool” sometimes carries negative connotations.

“Pool doesn’t have the best reputation. Too many negative stories are put out about the hustlers and not enough stories about the people who have really done something good with the sport,” he said.

With Kyaddondo agreeing to embrace the sport, several others are considering the proposal.

“As schools, we need a sport that is fair and with integrity.  If we can get pool into the mainstream and give it a good reputation, we would have contributed to the next generation of players,” Mugerwa, who has been involved in the sport at a management level at one time as the chairman of Icon Pool Club, said.