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Paintball in times of the Corona crisis
Tuesday July 21, 2020

TOBIS INTERVIEWS – PAINTBALL & CORONA

Tobi, aka Kress from the Paintball Channel, was again on the road as a freelance editor for this issue. Given the current situation and the fact that there simply aren't any tournaments to cover at the moment, he's taken on a slightly more serious topic this time. The result is an interview with four people from the paintball scene, in which he talks about the topic that is currently not only moving paintball Germany, but the whole world, the Corona crisis.

What about before, during and after Corona? – I asked four people from the scene that. And with that, welcome to my article. My name is Tobias, but many in the scene know me as Kress from the paintball channel. Like each of you, I have gained my own experiences and insights in the Corona Pandemic. All in all, I can say that I got through the time unscathed and I'm really looking forward to the new, regained freedom. The fields are gradually opening up again and paintball can finally be played again, albeit only under certain conditions. In order to give you as broad a cross-section of the scene as possible, I have Stephan Steiner as field owner, Sebastian Prante as shop owner, Oliver Nienhaus as captain of a team with 4 squads and a lot of youth work, as well as spoken to Nic Rippel as a player from the reigning German champions Breakout Spa. Let's start where it hurts the most, on the field. Stephan Steiner runs the paintball base in Solms with his wife Franziska. On its league field, among other things, the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga of the DPL is held and it is home to numerous paintball teams from the Frankfurt area. He and his team spent the past winter on renovation and modernization work and thus used up the last financial reserves to start 2020 in the best possible way. New nets, markers and covers were purchased and when it was finally time to start on March 15, shortly before the start of the season, the field was closed overnight.

I had a rough idea that something was coming and that we might be threatened with closure, since I had been following the Corona issue in China for a while, but I didn't expect it to hit us so quickly and so hard. ' Tells me Stephen. It took a little while to realize the full extent and it took Stephan a few days to process the new situation that had suddenly arisen. Privately and professionally, the field had just hit a reef and there wasn't much time to save the ship. It took a total of two weeks for first aid to even arrive.

"Fortunately, the state government approved the emergency aid within 28 hours," he tells us. It was only because of this and with additional help from friendly shops that his field made it through the period of forced closure. In addition, T-shirts and vouchers were sold from the field in order to generate at least a small income and be able to keep the employees.

Fortunately, the field has been open again since the end of May, but business is still slowly picking up again. "It's going to be difficult to rebuild the buffer for the winter season in the rest of the summer," explains Stephan. His field will continue to feel the effects of Corona in the years to come, of that he is certain.

However, Stephan and his team decided not to give up. On the contrary, they now really want to step on the gas to keep the field open to all paintball enthusiasts.

Not only fields were financially affected by the corona pandemic and the resulting restrictions, the dealers were also hit hard at the time. I spoke to Basti, the owner of PaintSupply in Berlin. At the beginning of the year I helped him move the shop. A decision that was made well before Corona and also brought direct success for the new paintball shop in the first few weeks. Here, too, a lot of time and the last savings were put into the new shop and then all sales collapsed overnight. Basti tells me about his experiences from that time. “That was from 100 to 0 in one second. Suddenly no customers and no sales, simply nothing. It was like stopping it with a sledgehammer,” he recalls. Since the playing fields were also closed, the online business also came to a standstill. To bridge the gap, the range was quickly changed and protective masks and self-defense equipment were sold.

However, it became problematic when the warehouse and all suppliers were sold out after just a few days. So Basti had nothing left to do but hope for the best and prepare for the time after the lock-down. Your own inventories are now better monitored and increased. In addition, new products are being sought to expand the repertoire for the future. So in Berlin, too, people are looking to the future and will not let things get them down.

We are now switching from the field operators and shops to the player side. I spoke to Olli from the Herford Mohawks team about this. He is a team captain, coach and recently a member of the board of directors of his paintball club.

“One of my biggest concerns was the newly formed BZL squad. Four new registrations in the DPL, no experience, fresh meat. The performance in training before Corona was really great and you could see how the boys and girls got better. The new start with the 1st team was also made. Then came the sudden lockdown, that was really tough.” The experienced tournament paintballer tells me.

The boys and girls have four squads this season and fortunately all registered players for the DPL season are still on board. As soon as the fields were playable again, the preparation for the season continued. The league process changed by the DPL is also fine for our teams, Olli tells us.

"The main thing is that there are still league tournaments this year where we can compete with others," he says happily. What the whole Corona situation means for international paintball operations is not really foreseeable.

However, Nic Rippel is someone who is directly affected. The experienced paintball professional is playing for the third year this season for Breakout Spa, one of the most successful teams in all of Europe and multiple German paintball champion with its own training ground in Belgium. The cross-border lockdown was a particular obstacle for him and his team. With players from three different countries, the boys faced an almost insurmountable problem. What will stay in Nic's mind in particular are the memories of the fact that they changed main sponsors after two years and just before March 15th all the equipment for two tournament squads was delivered to his home. Crates of markers, loaders, masks, clothing and other equipment for almost 20 players lay untouched in his apartment until last weekend. The Breakout Spa players have only been able to meet again in Belgium for training since mid-June.

As a team they are now trying to take all NXL events in Europe that may still be there and then fly together to the World Cup in the USA at the end of the season. In any case, Nic looks to the future full of positive expectations and is now looking forward to finally getting started again after the long break.

With this in mind, please keep your distance as much as possible, wash your hands regularly and wear masks when you go shopping. The paintball channel and I have survived the last few months thanks to enormous support from the scene. So from my side there will definitely be a time after Corona and many more posts and videos from the Paintball Channel. I would like to thank everyone who loves paintball as much as I do and who stood by and supported me during the difficult time. It is now up to us how to proceed. I hope you all stay healthy. See you soon, your cress.

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