Perseverance is always the way to go: Pool champ

He has won practically every silver ware on the Zambia shelf and has won the most prized accolade on the African continent. B-Metroa��s Mduduzi Moyo (MM) talks to Patrick a�?Bergera�? Banda (PBB) as he takes us on a journey of his dance with the game of pool.

MM: Patrick thank you for affording us a chance to talk to you.
PBB: You are welcome my brother.

MM: As a point of departure, just who is Patrick Banda?
PBB: Patrick Banda is a simple guy born on 2 January 1984 in Lusaka. I am the only child in my family.

MM: So when did this pool thing begin for you?
PBB: I started playing pool in high school in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in 1999. My father was working there and I was attending Kamala High School then. I was playing largely small competitions at school.

MM: Who would you say was your biggest inspiration for playing pool?
PBB: I used to watch billiards by then and there was this Scottish gentleman known as Ronnie Oa��Sullivan, the guy was a joy to watch but what I liked the most was his ability to play with both hands. That gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents in that he could play any shot from any angle. I started to like the sport and dreamed that one day I would play like him.

MM: Why the nickname a�?Bergera�??
PBB: I was given this nickname by my fellow players in the Zambian pool league in early 2000. They liked my style and compared my prowess in the game to the exploits of Liverpool Czech attacking midfielder Patrick Berger who scored a lot of beautiful goals in his career. He played for Liverpool between 1996 and 2003.

MM: When did you start playing professionally?
PBB: My first tournament was the Zambian Open in 2002. Out of 164 players I came second. I went on to win the same tournament the following year and thata��s when it all started for me. I went on to win it a further four times between then and 2008 when it was phased out for the doubles version of the game. I won the doubles title together with Paul Mumba. I have also won the National Black Ball Championships five times. I have also won the Zambian Pool League seven times now.

MM: Internationally?
PBB: I have represented my country in the Africa Pool Cup two times now. First time was in 2007 in South Africa were came second after losing to the hosts. The next time was in 2008 were again we played second fiddle to South Africa this time in Swaziland. In 2013 we beat South Africa to come tops in Malawi. And later this year we will be defending the title in Tanzania

MM: What is your assessment of Zimbabwe pool?
PBB: Zimbabwe pool is very competitive I remember when I played the current champion Hillary Makamuri in Lusaka last year he gave me a good run for my money. I eventually won the game but it was not easy.

MM: Pool has been reduced to a bar game. Peoplea��s perception of the game rise no higher that a sport for rowdy people. What has been the perception of the game in Zambia?
PBB: Pretty much the same. The game has in past failed to garner viable sponsorship because of that feeling. My own mother did not want to ever hear I was near a pool table. I had to hide the fact that I played pool from her. But a lot is changing now. A lot of pool halls are opening where they do not sell alcohol and society is slowly getting to appreciate the game as any other sport.

MM: How has sponsorship been like?
PBB: (Chuckles) Improving. No one would have loved in the past to sponsor the game but of late beverages giant Mosi is sponsoring the Zambian Open through its Black Label brand. Ita��s amazing because they also fund the national team when it goes for Africa Pool Cup. Government has also started chipping in with youth pool programmes which serve as a seedbed nursery for future talent. The future looks bright.

MM: As a parting shot. Your words of wisdom to up and coming pool players?
PBB: Perseverence is always the way to go. A disciplined mind can learn just about any skill there is to learn. Keep away from drugs and crime and always stick to your dreams bearing in mind that the sky is the only limit to success.

MM: Are you married?
PBB: Yes and have two beautiful children a�� a girl and a boy.

MM: Thank you Patrick for your time and wonderful insights. We hope to see more of you in future.
PBB: Thank you Mduduzi, the pleasure has been all mine.