This season the sport of pool went through moments of sheer and adulation as well as gut wrenching disappointment from controllable and uncontrollable situations. The season started with a the promise of an overloaded calendar including open tournaments like the Easter Cup,Independence Cup the Kampala Open and most importantly the National Open that took place in October.
In between those have been the league and other small tournaments which means players have not lacked in terms of competitions. Unlike the previous season where the league took long to start, this year it started in April as scheduled.
The Pool Association of Uganda (PAU) once again organised a worthy National Open this year. Bigger, better and inclusive right down the aisle. With help from the main sponsor Nile Special it managed to add a women’s category to the open.
History was made as Ritah Nimusiima drove away in Toyota Raum as the first female winner of the National Open.
The winner of the men’s category was 20-year-old Mansoor Bwanika becoming the youngest winner since Fahad Ssewankambo in 2014. They both showed the eclectic nature of the open as it made another dream come true.Incidentally, the women’s category was a reward for the countless women who have played the sport without opportunity to play at the biggest level.
Thirty two women made it to the grand finale in Lugogo including Vicky Namuyanja and Angella Busingye. Namuyanja made it to the semi-final only to be halted by theswashbuckling 18-year-old Rashida Mutesi who went on to contest the final against Nimusiima.
The teenager gave Nimusiima a scare early on in the contest but the former’s experience worked wonders as she went on to discipline her junior at CKI pool.
Failed title defence
Many names where expected to contest the National Open grand finale most especially amongst the top eight seeds. Fans of the sport were aware of the quality of Bwanika but very few thought him ready to win it all.
He took a few scalps on his way to the final including that of his club teammate Azali Lukomwa but what impressed the most was the way the young man became ice cold against the experienced Simon Lubulwa to win the final. Bwanika played like a winner in the final and his reward was none other than sh2m and a Toyota Altezza.
The high octane showings at the national open gave team selectors the necessary selection headaches ahead of the World Championships in England.
A team of 22 was supposed to travel for the World Pool Championships but saw that dream go up in smoke as the whole team was denied visas to the United Kingdom.
They all looked set to travel but they were denied entry into the UK because one of the team’s mains sponsors failed to produce their financial statements. PAU then was left to pick up the pieces of what looked like a promising situation only to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment. This was a very huge blow to PAU who started making preparations for the event as early as last year.
Players were excited about the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world but instead had to see pictures of other teams arriving for the tournament leaving them wondering about what could have happened.
“It has been highlighted that next time, we should do the visa process earlier and allow at least two weeks from when the visa response is obtained to the date of the trip,” PAU publicity secretary Denis Ngobi explained. “That way, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could have intervened and maybe the decision could have changed.”