By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– The pandemic forced many people to get creative in order to fill the boredom of lockdowns. A Denver man’s desire to safely entertain his friends turned into a bigger success than he ever imagined.

(credit: CBS)

Jamaican-born Errol Anderson came to America for the pursuit of happiness, opportunities, and to try his hand in the land of gold. He never thought those things would come from a backyard game he created for fun. After a few months of lockdown, Anderson started to get bored. The engineer suddenly had tons of free time and activities with friends vanished.

“Every weekend we’d get together and play basketball. We all missed each other,” said Anderson. “I looked for a game where we can distance, talk and be socially responsible. I bought corn hole and two people played it.”

Anderson used his skills as an engineer to design a game that would captivate his friends.

His game, Popongo, looks similar to corn hole, with two boards on the ground several feet across from each other. Anderson asked a friend who runs a design firm to punch holes in the boards and put cups in them.

Each cup is worth a number of points. Teams set a number to reach before the game begins, then each contestant throws balls into the cup to try to reach their goal number.

(credit: CBS)

Whoever wins yells – Popongo!

“At first I was thinking this would just be something for my friends to play. We were locked into this thing for hours. I thought, this might be something!” said Anderson.

He started selling the game and it’s become a hit in households around the country.

Anderson was later presented with an opportunity to use his game to support his home country in the biggest games on Earth – the Olympics.

“The Jamaican bobsled team represents resilience, fight, struggle. They’re the underdog you know? I always thought to myself if I have an opportunity, I’d love to do something to help the team. This opportunity presented itself and the team reached out to me,” said Anderson.

He committed a portion of his game sales to sponsor the team. This week they’ll compete in the Olympics for the first time in 24 years, and with Popongo’s logo on their uniform.

(credit: CBS)

Anderson’s support for Jamaican can even be seen in the game’s details.

“What I wanted to do was incorporate the colors of my Jamaican flag. We use the black, green and gold yellow, and then I use red for Mother Africa. The blue is for the waters and skies of the Caribbean,” explained Anderson.

His game is giving back to his first home, now Anderson hopes it becomes successful enough to give back to his community here.

“I’m on a mission to get these boards into the hands of people who otherwise couldn’t afford them,” said Anderson. “Churches, Boys and Girls Clubs and so on. How amazing would that be?”

SECTION: Elevating Black Voices

Tori Mason