Uganda’s top player Chandiga signed by Chinese

Chandiga inspects the table during the JOY Heyball Championship in China last month. The Ugandan top seed has been signed by Chinese company JOY Billiards. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

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Although the deal will mainly benefit the player who will now be part of the tour events, it will help the sport gain a foothold in Africa.

National Open champion Caesar Chandiga has signed a cooperation agreement with JOY World Heyball Tour as their ‘superstar’, to become the second African after Jason Theron of South Africa to join the big boys class.

Although the deal will mainly benefit the player who will now be part of the tour events, it will help the sport gain a foothold in Africa.

The deal was announced last week by JOY Billiards Company, a Chinese pool table manufacturer based in Qinhuangdao City. Chandiga is now part of the major tournaments organised by JOY who will fund his equipment and travel expenses.

“Congratulations Caesar Chandiga from Uganda on signing a Cooperation contract to become a JOY Super Star. Hope this talent brings more brilliant achievement to Heyball tournaments,” the organisers announced on their Facebook page last week.

Chandiga is the second African player in Africa to be signed by JOY Billiards as their ambassador after South Africa’s Theron

Chandiga was one of the invited players who had an automatic slot in the 12th edition of the Heyball Masters which concludes on Wednesday, April 4 in China.

His massive following across Africa, twice forced organisers to bring his games to the camera table attracting the highest views on the official live stream.

This year, Chandiga became the first Ugandan player to play in the main draw of the highly competitive event falling to Burmese Phone Myint Kyaw 13-6 in the round of 128.

He had the longest run among the Ugandan contingent that also had the ‘Little Magician’ Ibrahim Sejjemba, Rashida Mutesi, Rashid Wagaba ‘Dog City’, and Amos Ndyagumanawe.

Strictly business

In Uganda, blackball, also commonly known as British 8-ball is the most common version of pool played. But Heyball, a Chinese name for Chinese 8-ball, has rule changes, especially in breaking the rack.

As Chandiga said, “Heyball is a big game with big players” because of a massive $700,000 cash prize for the winner.

The Chinese are widening Heyball having also signed an agreement with the Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports (ACBS) to have Heyball into the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and the next edition of the Asian Games which will be held in Nagoya, Japan from September 19 to October 4, 2026.

In Africa, Heyball is taking calculated small steps because the demand for their tables is limited but businessman Akeem Kiggundu of Advanced Talent Agency signed an exclusive deal to become the distributor of JOY Heyball pool tables with a mandate to host Heyball tournaments in Uganda.

According to James Mwere, the Pool Association of Uganda (PAU) Vice Chairman, the agreements which have sidelined the sport’s organising body in Uganda will majorly benefit Chandiga and in some part the pool fraternity in Uganda.

“Now that Chandiga will join the JOY-organised events as a seeded player, we have an opportunity as an association to choose another player to go for the Heyball Masters Grand Finals,” Mwere said.

But he stressed that it's only about business for the Chinese.

“If you cannot buy tables from them, they have no business with you. They only recognise WPA (World Pool-Billiard Association) and AAPA (All Africa Pool Association) which they mandate to deal with to communicate with national associations to select players for their tournaments.

Previously, only one player has been invited by the organisers who foot his air ticket and hotel bills. But that player has had to play right from the qualifying rounds. Chandiga will now be assured of at least a cash bonus of $1,400 while he starts his journey in the main draw.