Alison Sibanda, Project Manager , Joy Billiards ,South Africa

GROWING CHINESE 8 BALL POOL IN SOUTH AFRICA IS EXCITING– SIBANDA

Africa was billed to host her first Chinese 8 Ball Pool World Cup, the expectation was high , the build up to the D-day eclectic, South Africa was gunning for another first, another feather to the cap that already had the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup, then fate happens , Covid-19 pandemic halted the rhythm of humanity and life moved from normal to a new normal and the effect on the Joy Billiards sponsored Chinese 8 Ball Pool World Cup was deflating.

Alison Sibanda is the project manager of Joy Billiards in South Africa one of the organisers of the World Cup who was looking forward to the event with high hopes.
“It was devastating , we thought we could pull it off, even when our head office in China told us, guys you can’t go ahead with this tournament because the pandemic will not allow the world championship to hold we kept our faith by going on to look at the event centre that will host the championship, we could feel it and see it happening but at the end we had to postpone to an unknown date unfortunately I must confess it really crushed us”.

HOW CHINESE 8 BALL POOL BERTH IN SOUTH AFRICAN
The story is just like every brand looking for expansion, a fertile market will always be attractive.
“Its been three years since 8-ball pool berth in south Africa, it came through the Halliday brothers and they played their part and we at Joy decided to open a Joy branch in South Africa which myself and a colleague Fabian Maystree headed, it is been a roller coaster , trying to introduce the sport and trying to put out the tables in the whole country. Its a challenge but an exciting challenge when you know that it is not simple but you got to do it and in the end it is such a challenge to teach people that pool is a sport that can played anywhere, it is not a bar sport or a sport that can played in drinking halls only , it is a sport that builds you, people can work around it and build careers around it”
HOW THE MARKET IS RESPONDING
Sibanda believes that a new product will compete with an existing one for a share of market if the strategy is right
“people love the game the game is exciting, it a bigger table our tables look exquisite, we’ve got a table that looks similar to the snooker table, people are excited when they see the table they just want to play but obviously they should be enough space for the table wherever venue it is deployed. So people who want to use our tables should have enough space to keep it. Despite the initial challenge of acceptance of the tables with those who will want to compare it with a product they are used to but we’ve had promotions that have helped us to infiltrate the market, we have had a couple of competitions that have boosted us, we are not were we want to yet but I am sure we will get there”.
“For the past a year and half we have given away 13 cars and we are running a competition in conjunction with a company called Pike that is obviously promoting their brand as well , so we are running a promotion where we given away a car out every month, the three major provinces in South Africa; Johannesburg Durban and Cape Town are where we are hosting the event and we usually have a minimum of 100 to 120 participants coming from different part of South Africa, so this tournaments are meant to reward whoever has got our table as they could send us two people per table, they could run a mini qualifier in their club just to raise more awareness and build interest. There qualifier will give players the opportunity to play at our main tournament. So we give out a car that is worth R108,000 every month with prizes included in it. unfortunately we have to come to a halt because of COVID, but now we do a virtual tournament called “HOME MADE” which you can play from anywhere against anyone , it is a break and finish concept where we give away R10,000 every month, it is been coming along , we do five stages and the sixth one which is the grand finale where we give away R100,000. That is our we reward those who have been loyal to the brand”.
THE PROPOSED AFRICAN TOUR
“There can never be an African Tour without South Africa because we are obviously the leader of Chinese Pool on the continent. We’ve got the most tables and the most players who actually go out there to represent us at International Tournaments”.

RANKING THE PLAYERS
“we have events where players are ranked like South African Championships, we do rank our players we know who is number and so on , so we rank our players in South Africa obviously”.
THE BOTCHED WORLD CUP
“Everything right now is just frozen temporarily , especially with the pandemic, so we can’t put a time to when the World championship we hold for now until the pandemic is over. Trust me it was going to be big for every one at the postponed World cup, the sponsors, the players and the spectators it was going to be exciting if it held”.
WOMEN IN THE SPORT
“we got a decent number of women playing Chinese Pool in South Africa at this time I will say it is 20/30 % in ratio to men , we know that it is a matter of time before we have more women but we have great players among the womenfolk, some are even our ambassadors who are earning some good reward in the game, for example one of our female players has won over R100,000 in make over prize”
GOING FORWARD
“We want to promote the games in schools, primary, secondary and universities, we will deploy our tables and engage some of prominent players to coach and organise clinics in schools in order to make the game popular. Already we are seeing young people like Taofeek Maray an eleven year old boy who has won monetary reward in our competition develop and will act as motivation to discover more talents”.

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