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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Star Shooters

Star shooters By SHARMILA NAIR

PAINTBALL is not just a game about eliminating your opponents by spattering them with paint pellets. There’s more to the challenging game than just aiming, shooting and getting down right messy.

Paintball requires strategy, determination, agility and most importantly teamwork. If you get the formula right, the game will take you far.

Shamsher Opherden and Greg Tee stand testament to that. The avid paintballers have been playing the game for a very long time and even had the opportunity to represent Malaysia in an international championship last month.

These members of the paintball club Macdev Ronin were first runners-up at the World Cup Asia (WCA), which automatically qualified them to participate in the Millennium Cup paintball championship in Paris, France.

“We’re the first Malaysian team to have actually played in the WCA finals, and when we knew that we made it to the Millennium Cup, it was simply amazing,” says Shamsher, 21.

The 10-member team played alongside some of the world’s greatest paintballers, and they didn’t let their lack of experience or the novelty of competing in an international arena get in the way of their game plan.

Greg Tee (left) and Shamsher Opherden are avid paintballers. Their team represented Malaysia at the recent Millennium Cup in Paris, France.

“It was our first time going against some of the very people we’ve actually read about. The experience was definitely a dream come true for most, if not all, of us,” says Greg.

They also learned a lot by watching the international players who played the game somewhat differently from what these boys are used to.

“Their game play is more on the aggressive side whereas Malaysian paintballers prefer to play on the defensive side,” adds Greg.

The 17-year-old Hotel Management student has been playing the game for almost four years, and has been a member of Macdev Ronin in the last two.

Another aspect that they found different in France was the crowd. More people come to support paintballers than they do at home, says Shamsher.

“People over there are used to paintball, so the game is nothing new to them. You can see many fans coming over just to watch the game and support the players. It’s not the same here.”

Nevertheless, the boys don’t let the lack of crowd support deter them from doing their best in any competition, especially during the local season league.

The Macdev Ronin also plays in the National Paintball League, which has about 50 local teams competing for the championship trophy.

“We keep ourselves busy by participating in various paintball leagues. It keeps the team alert and ready all the time,” says Greg.

The Macdev Ronin usually trains at Padang Astaka in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, every Sunday, playing paintball for at least four hours each time.

*The Macdev Ronin team during one of their games.

There’s a lot of physical training involved and the paintballers keep fit by jogging, doing push-ups and more.

“We also practise our sliding, diving and snapshooting motions. These are all part of the paintball techinques that helps us move faster without getting hit,” says Shamsher.

The players ensure that they’re fitted with proper paintball gear, such as protective masks, jersey and pants before they start training.

“We all have our own markers (paintball guns), and our own gears. We can’t play if we don’t have on a complete set of ‘uniform’,” says Greg.

A marker is priced between RM800 and RM6,500, whereas a mask can cost up to RM400. Though the gear may seem a little expensive, they are considered as investments by players who see themselves playing the game for a long time.

“Paintball is a game that doesn’t just use your body but your mind as well. It’s a game that requires quick thinking and moves.” When they are on the ‘battlefield’, the one thing that keeps them going is the adrenaline rush. Shamsher says that once you get addicted to the high from playing paintball, you’ll keep going back for more.

The camaraderie and friendship they form on the ground is also something that keeps the players going. They have to communicate and be on the lookout for one another at all times.

Greg also says that there’s a lot of yelling involved in paintball, as that’s the only way that the players can communicate with each other while playing the game.

“We need to be co-ordinated at all times. That’s one way to ensure that we don’t get eliminated quickly,” he says.

A player who gets hit with the paint pellet (usually made of a gelatin shell filled with food colouring and vegetable oil), is out from the game, and the team that eliminates all of its opponents is considered the winner.

“You cannot get shot at any part of your body, or even your equipment. You’ll be considered out of the game. And if a player stays on in the game even after getting hit, they’ll be penalised,” says Greg.

This is where teamwork comes in as each player looks out for one another. But at the same time, there are moments when the team members get angry with one another over a move or decision.

“We do have our arguments but nothing has gone past verbal. There’s a rule against cursing and if a player gets into a fit and throws the marker on the ground, they’ll be banned from playing the game for a year,” says Shamsher.

That is a huge penalty that none of the players want to pay, so they make sure that they keep their cool (and that their team members do too) during the games.

The next big championship that the boys are looking forward to is the WCA which will be held in November.

“We hope to get into the WCA finals again, which means that we’ll qualify for the Millennium Cup next year. Then, we can really do better than we did this year,” says Greg.

*Photo from

Source: The Star