Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ACCORDING to Century Billiards, leading manufacturers of custom pool tables, the tradition of manufacturing pool tables began in Salerno, a port city southeast of Naples, Italy, in the 19th century where the Grimaldi family had an already established pool table business.
The family is said to have taken its expertise to the United States of America in 1896 and for more than 100 years, the tradition and dedication to creating the finest quality, most unique pool tables on the market has continued.
Building a pool table requires a lot of dedication and expertise in woodworking and for a quality product, one needs to have the financial resources to purchase everything that is needed for the exercise.
“You might also need to buy some woodworking supplies and tools to complete the project. Such tools might include, but not limited to a table saw, a chop saw, a band saw, a jigsaw, a hole saw, a manual , a router, a nail gun and nails, a stapler and staples, wood glue, an orbital sander, a drill, screws, a biscuit, joiner, biscuits, a drill press, planers, measuring tape, disposable brushes, shop towels and a razor blade,” advises Century Billiards to those that intend building pool tables.
While the first pool table came from Italy and the tradition has been passed on for generations, one talented 13-year-old boy, a Grade 5 learner at a school some 11 327km from Salerno, has, during the Covid-19 induced lockdown that has kept schools shut, managed to make his own pool table using the simplest of materials like nails, old cloth, old slippers, hammer and planks.
He did not have to have all the expensive things as suggested by Century Billiards for a home-made pool table.
His ingenuity has also managed to give him some pocket money as he charges $1 for a game. A visitor at the Cowdray Park terminus near the flea market will not miss a group of young boys crowded around the youngman’s ‘invention.’
“I used to watch some pool games and even though I would long to play, I had challenges because of the height of the pool table and that motivated me to build my own small pool table where kids like me will be able to play. I told my friends that from now on, my mission will be to build a pool table. I remember I was a laughing stock, they never believed what I had told them,” said Maxwell Moyo, a learner from Cowdray Park Primary School.
He managed to gather materials he needed for the ‘impossible’ job and in just under two weeks, his project came to life.
“While I was busy building, I asked my friends to look around for balls that we will use. We call those balls omasibululu (marbles). We are using six balls, one is white another is black then the other four are your solid and striped,” he said.
He said had it not been for the lockdown, he probably would not have managed to undertake his project, let alone have time to watch pool games.
“My intention is to build an even better pool table, but that challenge is because of resources. I am, however, a dreamer and someone who likes to try many things so I know that one day that dream will become a reality. If I have many pool tables I can even hire or sell them to schools, especially primary schools for those extra curriculum activities.
“I know there are many like me out there who like the game and wish they could play it, but the pool tables are not that user friendly for someone in primary school.
“I hope one day my wish will come true so primary school pupils can also enjoy the game of pool,” said Moyo.