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Belladonna – A DREAM CAME TRUE
Friday August 18, 2023

Belladonna – A DREAM CAME TRUE

In this issue, too, the topic of tournament sports should not be neglected. However, this time it's not about the DPL, the ICS or other formats and also not about one of the well-known teams from this area. Today we're going to take a look at the ladies in our sport. We also had the opportunity to interview Bibi Bender, the team founder of Belladonna, the all-women team, right after winning the WNXL Netherlands Invitationals in Sevenum.

The topic of women in paintball sports has developed slowly but consistently positively in recent years. Around ten years ago there were hardly any women on the field, but today they are represented in almost all leagues and divisions. There was even a case where a few years ago the women's national team played an entire season in the 3rd Bundesliga of the DPL. Where we are still relatively early here in Germany and Europe, the paintball pioneers in the USA are a good deal further. In order to further focus on the women in this country as well, an all-women team was created with the Belladonna team. Bibi Bender, who is certainly well known to many in the German paintball scene, is the founder of the team and was kind enough to give us an interview. She had a lot to tell.


PBS Magazine: Bibi, the Belladonnas are one of the few all-women teams in paintball tournaments. As a team founder, how did you come to take this step?

Bibi: In the USA, the WNXL, an all-women paintball league, has been fully established for three years. The number of women has risen significantly, as has the number of viewers, in short, the female players are finally being noticed and taken seriously in the global paintball scene, from “Oops, which guy are you starting with?” to “Damn, they can play paintball.” I have been in the paintball scene for over a decade and have played for quite a few teams. Formerly all-male teams, then mixed teams, but also for all-female teams. Leading my own team is exactly what I wanted. Each player in the first squad was carefully selected, I analyzed strengths and weaknesses to put together a balanced team. It has always been my wish to be recognized as a good paintball player; because of my commitment and also my skills and not because of my gender. With the WNXL there is now a professional platform that enables exactly this for women. Of course, the WNXL isn't as powerful as the NXL Pro, although one of the Belladonna players "Charlotte Morel" is in the starting five with Paris Camp Carnage and is also the first woman NXL Pro in the USA. I have incredible respect for it, the work of even the fewest men among European paintballers.

PBS Magazine: When exactly did you start Team Belladonna? Where is your team based and where can we meet you?

Bibi: I founded the team after my win with Team Drakaina at the first WNXL EU in January. It was immediately clear that we would choose Breakout Spa (one of the TOP Pro Teams in Europe) in Belgium as our team and training center. Unfortunately, we don't yet have a large, established women's scene in Europe, so the location in Belgium with its proximity to Germany, France, the UK and Luxembourg is a no-brainer. The fact that I now live and work in Belgium may have played a role, but certainly also my long friendship with Claude.

PBS Magazin: A professional, performance-related team is always a lot of work and costs not only time but also a lot of money. Who are your partners and sponsors, or who supports you in training?

Bibi: Our big thanks always go to Axel Knauf and Claude Schoonbrodt and the whole Breakout Family for their support since day one. Our coaches Quentin Duchene and Felix Mueller do a wonderful job, although it's not always friendly here. Felix and Quentin have paintball know-how that can only make us better. The principle is to challenge and encourage.

PBS Magazine: Bibi, please tell our readers something about the team. How many players are you, where are you from and what else is there to know about you?

Bibi: We currently consist of 14 players from five countries. Germany, France, Belgium, UK and Sweden – not all are in the first squad at the moment. But that's also exactly what I want – I want to get girls and women to report, even if they've only been on the field twice, because that's the only way we can develop further, that's the only way we can grow as a team and as a scene! And that's exactly what we can offer with Belladonna and Breakout Spa in Sprimont – hands-on players without airs and graces. It can also happen that you have a Nic Rippel, Moritz Berndson or Dylan Hendrickx on the opposing base. (All NXL Pro players)

PBS Magazin: Ok, that really sounds like optimal conditions. What would you like to say to interested players out there?

Bibi: It's basically about the message – we're on the field just as often as the men, we have the same passion and share the same love for the sport. And that we as women can now also deal with each other on the field – "This is the way". I hope the little sister, or friend, or daughter who sees us playing then says to her parents, "You see, I can do that too" and that we can get even more women interested in the sport.

PBS Magazin: Well said and a great vision for the future. Now you have impressively followed up on these words with your victory on the NXL and also made your playful ambitions clear. Tell us a little about it.

Bibi: With the win in Sevenum, a big weight was lifted from our hearts. Belladonna was able to get good supporters and sponsors in advance with Planet Eclipse, Breakout Arena, (The team's own SupAir-Ball field in Sprimont, Belgium, our home court.) Anthrax Sportswear, Hormesis, Powerhouse, D1Net Solutions and UCCA. Kim Alina, one of our players, flew to Orlando, Florida, USA for the NXL World Cup last year to play the WNXL US with me for the Shieldmaidens; As is well known, there are always coincidences, Kim Alina was sitting on the same plane with Stephan Wildemann from paintball.de. Stephan was on fire to support us with our project. Not only do we have our own fan shop through him – just like the Lucky 15, but we also get a custom CS3 in the Belladonna design through his mediation. And then there are probably Paintball Sports on the website. This support makes our lives easier and also that of the players, because we are in a better financial position.

PBS Magazin: Sounds like strong support and a great perspective. That is not a matter of course.

Bibi: If you had asked me in January, I would never have believed that this project would develop so positively. There are people who buy our match-worn jerseys. Crazy! I am infinitely grateful for the trust in me, but also in my team and that from so many sides. At the same time, there is actually pressure to succeed – but we rocked it!

PBS Magazine: As a team, what else do you have in store for this season? Where will the Belladonnas compete next?

Bibi: Our plans are clearly to win in Birmingham and then in Paris – we train hard so as not to disappoint anyone. You will not only see some of us in the Breakout Arena, but we will also take one or the other big game with us. We are also planning to establish a Girls Day @Breakout Arena in Spa to look for players for our squad, but also to promote youngsters.

We will post the date here and via our Instagram account: (see QR code on page 17)

PBS Magazin: Bibi, we would like to thank you very much for taking the time and wish you and the team all the best and much success for the rest of the season. You've really put together a great project that not only represents the sport of paintball well and professionally, but also certainly brings a bit more attention to the sport.

Bibi: Many thanks to the whole Paintball Sports Magazine team for giving us the opportunity to tell a little more about us and our plans.

That was our interview with Bibi Bender from the women's paintball team Belladonna. A great, ambitious project in our opinion. We keep our fingers crossed for the girls for the other tournaments this year.

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