Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My paintball story

Shared this too many times and thought I pen it down so that people who chance upon this blog can also see the light of this game we love. I have been playing competitive paintball since 2006. In a few more days, I will be going into my 6 years of competitive paintball. Similarly, one thing that is always doing the catching up is my age... I will be 34 years old in a few days. I started the game in what I considered as a out-dated age for any athlete, at the age of 28 years old, you will roughly have an idea if you are going to treat sport as just a recreational hobby... and this was what I thought until I found out about competitive paintball. I have been playing sports my entire life... I did a little bit of everything but seriously a master of none. I had my first taste of volleyball at the age of 10 and knew that volleyball was not my cup of tea. I ran in National events when I was in primary school and thought that running was all that I knew. In secondary school, I was crazy about basketball and played a lot until I saw my results at the final exam. Then I took up running again... but this time, I did a longer distance. Although I am an asthmatic, I considered myself to be a pretty good long distance runner having been one of the very few to cross the finishing line early when I was an officer trainee in the army. Short and long burst of 5km, 10km, 15km, 21km was a daily affair. Running stopped after I started working and I returned to my first love, basketball. I was working in a tertiary institution back then and sports was easily available. I started playing recreational soccer and did a little bit of running here and there just to keep myself fit for the annual IPPT. And of course, being a social runner and with the growing popularity of endurance events in Singapore, I tried my hands on the Osim Triathlon. Well... just say that I finished the event with many unforgettable memories. My love of sports persuaded me to find out more about this wonderful social invention and soon enough I was going back to school again and took up a part time Sports and Exercise diploma in Singapore to further my interest. I graduated in a pretty well known university in Australia with an Electrical Engineering honours degree. When I was studying in Australia, I was playing a lot of weekend soccer and was very impressed with the sporting culture downunder. Sport is not just an individual affair, it is a family affair. People will come and support friends and family members who are playing sports. When I came back to Singapore, I wasn't ready to accept the fact that most of the buddies that I used to play sports with are now setting different life priorities and commitment which leaves them with no time for sports... I suddenly had no one to run with, no one to play basketball with, no one to talk about sports except to watch them on TV, usually with a bag of chips. And I seriously thought that things are going to be so dull and all my aspirations of being a good sports fan had to die a horrible death. But my life soon change after I found out about competitive paintball, speedball.

It happened at the end of 2006 when I was on a trip to Malaysia to find out about the Paintball World Cup Asia. Very soon enough, I was already playing this sport. But surely of course, no one else in Singapore was playing competitive paintball back then and so I had to recruit people of the same interest and it didn't help that there wasn't many videos on the internet for us to relate the sports to anyone who might be interested. Every weekend, I will have to travel 640km back and forth to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to learn more about this competitive sport. Trust me it wasn't easy travelling this distance every weekend for a period of more than 1 year. I have to miss precious time with my family and was constantly on the road. But most importantly, I found a new sport which took me to a new level that I never knew existed. I was like a crazy man thinking about paintball almost every single minute of my life. I would look into the mirror, pretending that someone was shooting at from the other end and dodging my way out of the shot. I would do nothing at times but to "run my fingers" like I was going to pull the trigger at the fastest speed that I can ever attain. I was looking out for information about the game and how to perfect my posture and movement. I was constantly searching videos and spent hours watching, talking and thinking about paintball. It changed my life again but more importantly, I found the real essence of playing sports again.

6 years down the road, I am now still an avid paintball player with a Division 2 Champion title under my belt. I have coached countless number of paintball players who are now far better and more skillful than me. I have affected everyone who crossed my path and was as crazy as myself 6 years ago. There are still a lot to be done for the sport in Singapore. While we now have a large community of players and the right development plans for paintball in Singapore, we are still very far away from achieving flexibility to the restriction that will give many 2nd life to many "athletes" like myself. I believe every paintball player have their own story to tell and I wish that by writing this paragraph, I am able to stimulate the passion within each and everyone of you to write something about paintball. Something about how you first started playing this game about how you met the many players and friends that you never knew existed but will always carry a thought about them when you don't see them playing paintball anymore. Paintball is not just about passion for sports, paintballers live their life thinking about their fellow comrades all the time.