Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So... what's next for Singapore paintball?

I am writing this article especially for all Singaporean participants of this year's WCA. But even if you are not there to play or to witness the event, I hope this article leaves an impression upon you to think about how you can contribute to the state of Singapore paintball. If you like the experience of attending the WCA, if you enjoy the tradeshow put up by the vendors, if you are mesmerized by the massive scale of the event, think about how and what you can do to improve the state of Singapore paintball.

It is funny because every time when I meet up with overseas friends in paintball events, they will 100%, definitely and surely ask me: "How's Singapore paintball?" And as usual, I will reply that the paintball scene is getter better with more players participating in speedball and playing in local and overseas tournaments. Then come the next question and it is always 100%, definitely, surely be: "Still unable to play with your own personal marker?"... then came the de-facto reply: "Nah... not possible for now..." Similar to a voice recording...

So is it really impossible? Not really... all we need is getting the right people to do the right things. Then some might ask...who are these people? Well, I say its all of us... I am very sure that if you are into paintball, you will most probably talk about this sport with your friends, families, relatives, neighbours, basically everyone that you meet at work, school and your neighbourhood. But what Singapore paintball really need is more than just talking about paintball... we have long gone and passed that phase of creating awareness. Those who have gone to the WCA... ask yourself honestly how far are we away from organizing a paintball tournament as similar to the WCA? Or let's lower the expectations, maybe a paintball event with 4 playing divisions? At this present state... I think we are far beyond to even close. And why is that so?

We may ask ourselves? Is it the lack of playing fields? Is it the lack of resources? Is it the lack of recognition? Is it the lack of players? Is it the lack of support from governing agencies? Is it the lack of awareness? Is it the lack of funding? Is it the lack of a proper organization to push for paintball?

In 2007, I would 100%, definitely and surely say it is the lack of players... in 2007, I would 100%, definitely and surely say it is the lack of resources... in 2007, I would 100%, definitely and surely say it is the lack of awareness... but now that we are in 2010... I presume that we have done all that we can to create paintball awareness in Singapore. Yes... I am pretty sure that there are people out there who still doesn't know what paintball is all about but I dare say that there are also more people who do know about paintball as compared to 2007. I am not blaming those who don't.... because I am also 100% sure that there are people out there who doesn't know the name of our Deputy Prime Minister... if you know what I mean...

Is there a lack of playing fields in Singapore? No, not for paintball in general... so is there a lack of speedball fields in Singapore? Yes, no, perhaps, maybe... someone told me that it is profitable to organize speedball tournaments. Well... I don't know if this is the case in other countries but in Singapore, I am very very sure this is not the case. Everyone in Singapore knows that speedball is not where the money is and why is that so? The reason is simple and logical.. speedballers want the best of everything... cheap paintballs, good playing resources, good playing fields and good refereeing. There is a reason why there are more recreational paintball fields than just fields surviving on plain speedball in the world. You don't need to be smart to know this... any budding paintball entrepreneur will know this simple fact. Training a paintball player who is really to embark on his competitive journey is similar to training a fighter pilot ready to take on the horizon. It takes time... Again... not that it is impossible, it is possible, it just need time involving the right ingredients.

Quick measures for quick solutions? Marker ownership?

If you are new to paintball and you are reading this article... let me inform you that in Singapore it is illegal to individually possess a paintball marker, this means that you will not be allow to buy a paintball marker in Singapore as no one in Singapore is selling it and you will not be able to buy a marker off the internet not unless you are ready to receive a call up from the governing agencies to explain your need for a paintball marker (gun). So quit thinking about the day where you can bring your marker home and sleeping with it next to you. Well... at least I think it is impossible in the next few years unless we do see a drastic change to the current state.

Imagine this... we are now standing at the cross roads for Singapore paintball... let me put this into perspective: our local community has come to a point where there are pioneering players (those who started playing the game since 2007), mid tier players (those who started playing the game since 2008/2009 and have gone through a few local events and a few overseas events) and beginner players. While I am not worried about the development and introduction of beginner players, I am actually pretty worried about our pioneer and mid tier players as they will now have a decision to make: 1) To continue playing in the novice division (Division 4) or 2) To move on playing in Division 3. Many will choose the latter option which is a sensible and wise choice, quit the "sandbagger" tag and move on to playing with opponents who are as good as them. But hang on... how can they proceed to play in higher division if they are not allow to possess better equipment ideal for the change? Many buy paintball markers in Malaysia and keep them there... playing with their markers during weekends and using them during ocassional tournaments. Quick measures indeed...

And of course this is the best option if they want to kick start playing the game as fast as possible. It is a logical choice to get one started in the game in the shortest possible time. Incidentally, I am one of these players who possess paintball markers in Malaysia and play with them whenever I like. I enjoy participating in the Malaysia paintball scene and paying for cheaper paintballs too. At the same time, I also put in my fair share of complaining and whinning about the laws in Singapore where individual paintball marker possession in Singapore is almost close to being impossible.

A quick measure perhaps? Surely it is the fastest way to start playing some "real" paintball. You make the decision and start your venture shooting away... there is no right or wrong in doing so and to each his own actually. But how "real" can this be? Yes, we have our own arsenal in Malaysia but how is it going to help develop our own local scene? Don't get me wrong, I am not telling you not to buy a paintball marker or to play in Malaysia... anyone who knows me will know that I enjoy talking to people about playing in Malaysia, many of my friends, clients, relatives, colleagues play in Malaysia, many of my friends are field owners and proshop owners in Malaysia, so don't get me wrong please. My question is and the same goes for everyone who wants to see paintball take off in Singapore and a question that we should all ponder about: Can we do something for Singapore paintball? We know what we want...

We will soon have a pool of players wanting to play in the higher divisions.... we will soon have players wanting to possess their own training equipment.... we will soon have more players joining the local paintball community. How can we cater to this growth? Gone are the days when we have to travel 360km to Kuala Lumpur to play paintball every weekend. We can do that as close to us in Johor Bahru but we also know that not everyone is coming to terms with the traffic jams and the travel duration... do we have an option to enjoy the "real" game of speedball in Singapore? using the right equipment perhaps... and not violating any laws with the government? Perhaps... let's work on the local scene as we grow the sport in Singapore.

What we really need is a system crafted by a group of people who wants to see paintball improve... something like the BTO... something to convince people up there that we know what we are doing and that we are doing the right thing for Singapore paintball. Statistics is a must for sure... We need people to be playing and competing to come up with good figures... when there is no higher divisional games in Singapore means no statistics... no statistics means no proof, no "Black and White", no evidence... we need that statistics. We need actions... not just talk. We need results... not just participation.

20 teams from Singapore playing in WCA 2011 will be my personal goal. Are you in or are you out?

Tip for you to continue playing and improving paintball in Singapore:

- Recruit more players into your team
- Promote and market paintball whenever possible. Majority just play... but it is so important to influence the guy standing next to you
- Be financially stable. Playing paintball is not cheap but I wouldn't say that it is unaffordable
You don't need a deep pocket to play competitive paintball
- Participate in local and overseas tournaments
- Join the PBAS to contribute to changes for paintball in Singapore
- Spread the love
- Most importantly, support your local fields and proshop

All stated above are personal views and in no way related to any teams, businesses and organizations.

Rampage Onslaught takes podium finish in World Cup Asia 2010

Rampage Onslaught during Singapore Paintball Series 2010

After winning the Novice Division of the Singapore Paintball Series (SPS) 2010, Singapore based team, Rampage Onslaught proceed to participate in their first outing in the Division 4 World Cup Asia (WCA) 2010 and took their game to a podium finish with a 4th placing position. Last year, Team Contract Killers became the first Singapore team to win a medal in the WCA and this year, Rampage Onslaught took a similar position to do Singapore proud again. The standard of paintball in this year's WCA 2010 has certainly better than that of 2009 with many teams getting better in paintball which is a good thing for paintball in Asia! Will Singapore continue a consecutive podium finish in 2011? Welcome 2011... Congratulations Rampage Onslaught!