This is an historical milestone for Singapore paintball as Red Sevens paintball team becomes the first paintball team in Singapore to secure a corporate cash sponsorship from a top leading Asia micropayment company, Cherry Credits for the year 2012. We jumped on the opportunity to interview Ben Seow who is a founding member of the Red Sevens to find out more about this sponsorship and how this initiative can change paintball sports in Singapore.
1) Ok... go straight to the point, what's the deal with Cherry Credits?
A: Cherry Credits is a leading company in Asia which manages global micropayment solutions on online platform. As a top industry organization, Cherry Credits wanted to initiate its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and paintball was selected due to its focus on teamwork and strategies which have similarities to the online gaming platform. Red Sevens as one of the top paintball teams in Singapore was chosen to represent its brand.
2) Let us know the specifics... what is in this sponsorship deal?
A: Let's just say that we have got a few paintball events covered for 2012 and the team will be adopting the name of "Cherry Credits Red Sevens" in 2012. But it doesn't mean that we will get to play for free... though we will be getting a new customized jersey in the promotion and marketing of our sponsor's brand.
The winning team from 2011.
3) Red Sevens which was the Overall Series Champion for Division 2 in Malaysia Paintball Official Circuit (MPOC) 2011 did not attend the first leg of MPOC 2012 in January... what actually happened?
A: After winning both overall championship titles in the Singapore Paintball Series(SPS) and MPOC Division 2 in 2011, the team is currently undergoing a complete restructure. In 2011, the team participated in all legs of MPOC, SPS and Paintball Asia League Series (PALS) and cost of participation and time of travel has taken a toll on everyone. As soon as the season was over, everyone went back to their daily routine. Work, studies, money and family were some of the main reasons why players left but I guess these are the norms in every team. In paintball, it is common for players to come and go, we'll just have to recruit more players into the team.
4) So...when will we be seeing the Red Sevens on the field again?
A: With the revamp, we will have a couple of new faces this year. The team was build in the direction where each and every player in the team has a good foundation in the fundamental basics of paintball. Our new players whom we have been working with in the past 1 - 2 months are acquiring these skill sets before they are picked for games. These progressions will be carefully monitored and critiqued upon. We hope to instill the newer players with more game experience before sending them to the real stage. We will most probably formed a mix team in the Division 3 ranks to initiate these new players and make an assessment of how far we will go from there. Following on, we will proceed to Division 2 which is where the team should be playing.
Zac Schick was newly recruited to Red Sevens and will be representing the team in 2012.
5) We were under the impression that Red Sevens was going Division 1 in 2012.
A: Yes, the MPOC organizers announce about our possible promotion to Division 1 in 2012. In fact, this request was put forth in 2010 for the 2011 season but we were not ready for the bigger stage. In the early 2011, we had some players who left the team which was the reason why we couldn't give Division 1 a go. The same thing happened again this year... and so we had to stay in Division 2. Hopefully, we will have a Division 1 team in 2013.
Training in progress for new players of the Red Sevens
6) How many players are there in the Red 7 roster?
A: In 2011, we had a roster of 20 players but as of now, perhaps about 10 players. Half of the Red Sevens team had to deal with life issues and couldn't compete as much as they would like to in 2012.
7) Back to the sponsorship with Cherry Credits. Tell us, why do you say that this is historical for Singapore?
A: Paintball is not a mainstream sports in Singapore. Mainstream sports in Singapore are widely recognized by corporate companies and governing organizations. Major sporting events held in Singapore are often supported by a big corporate brand such as the OCBC Cycling and the Standard Chartered Marathon. With this sponsorship and due recognition from Cherry Credits, we are taking the first step in getting the involvement of corporate companies to promote paintball. We have hopes to leverage on this sponsorship to create awareness for the sport so that more people are aware about paintball sports and clear doubts about paintball being a dangerous activity that can only be played in a forested environment. With greater awareness, we are hoping to garner the support of more corporate companies to support the local paintball scene so that more local paintball teams can follow our footsteps to gain recognition and support. This might also create an opportunity for governing authorities to review the current regulations that are binding the progression of this sport.
8) Cash sponsorship is never an easy feat. Tell us more about this.
A: I couldn't agree more. Getting cash sponsorship is never an easy task but it is not entirely impossible. The way to go about doing this is to manage your paintball team as professional as possible. Every team wants the best for themselves but not all are willing to do their best in getting these sponsorship. By that I mean drafting a good sponsorship proposal. A good proposal sets the tone right for everyone. All sponsors want to know how the team can best represent their brand whether they are on or off the paintball field. A team has to be playing enough tournaments to gain recognition and in order to do that, the team has to put in a considerably amount of time in training before competing. When competing, the team has to win. No sponsor would want to sponsor a non-winning team and in order to win, team has to train. It is a chicken and egg story but many fail to see that.
Red Sevens winning the Singapore Paintball Series 2011 as Overall Champion
9) What are the plans for Red Sevens in 2012?
A: Revamp, Restructure and Reconstruct. The team was formed in 2006 and 6 years on, we are going into a new phase. We are currently recruiting players to form a D2, D3 and D4 team in each of the category. And if we do well in 2012, we will try for a D1 spot in 2013. We do have some major plans lined up from now to end of the year and if all goes well, we will create many more historic milestones.
10) Tell us more about these milestones.
A: I prefer to keep mum and see what happens from here. It is going to be very interesting, I promised.
11) Any last words?
A: Anything is possible. Never say never. Keep the hopes high and continue doing what you think is right. There are ups and downs but the sun will still rise after every night. Stay positive.
Interview conducted by Jane Koh
All photos belong to rightful owner. Photos from www.residentevilchef.com