One of the best paintball stories of 2013 that you’ve never heard is happening right now. 50 of the best players from Latin America are fighting for the chance to become members of the Latin American Dream Team, and to have their paintball dream for World Cup fully funded. The 50 prospects will be tested, coached and trained for the next week by a few pro players, and the ten best will compete in Division 1 at World Cup. This concept was the brainchild of Tony Perez, a long time paintball industry veteran, who’s been trying to grow the sport down south for years. Here’s the Latin American Dream team’s story. Trust us, it’s not something you want to miss.
Everyone Needs A Dream
By: Tony Perez
Playing competitive paintball can be a transformational experience, something that on the surface is simple, just a bunch of guys shooting guns at each other trying to get at a flag, but the trials, and lessons, that exist beyond the basic details are some of the most self-empowering moments you can experience. A paintball adventure, regardless of whether you win or lose, forces you to deal with certain aspects of yourself and grow as a person.
10 years of playing on the American and European professional circuits, traveling, teaching, and working all over the world have taught me this and made me realize I needed to give back, to help create and build something for the next generation of players.
People need something to aspire towards. They need a dream. Normally when people hear the name, or label, “Dream Team” they think of an All-Star team, filled with the best players, and that is true, and it’s something we are working to build. But it’s bigger than that, we want to create a platform for Latin American players where they can live their paintball dream.
Let’s me fill you in on what we’ve been working on down in Latin American. Thankfully, since the start of my international paintball distribution business in 2003, Primelink Sports International is now one of the top 3 worldwide international paintball distribution companies. We’ve had success distributing all lines of paintball products but we’re able to do our best with a few like HK Army, DLX, Dye, Kee Action Sports, Gen X Global, Guerrilla Air, and Tippmann, who have specifically chosen to partner with Primelink for their South American efforts. Amongst the 18 countries of Latin America, paintball has seen exponential growth and even the beginning of several national leagues.
My business has provided contacts throughout Latin American, and since I’ve been down there it has always been a dream to have an all-Latin pro paintball team to represent the countries of Latin America, but more importantly, give its players a goal and dream to aspire towards. This is a challenging proposition since costs, logistics, and ability to practice every weekend is not as easy as it would be in the United States.
As everyone knows, you are only as good as the level of competition you get to play against on a regular basis. Unlike in the United States or Europe where the players have access to professional paintball and top-level Divisional teams, the same is not the case for South America. Players in South America do not have the access to the typical US and European pro scene. Still, the tournament scene down south has grown rapidly, and pockets of very talented players are found scattered throughout all the countries of Latin America, but only a few players, guys like Xalo Almeida (Brazil), Osvaldo Alvarez (Mexico) and Osvaldo Lopez (Brazil) have ever been noticed and actually earned the opportunity to play on pro rosters.
In order for paintball, the sport and the industry, to continue to grow in Latin America, we need to pry open a window of opportunity for these talented Latin American players to not only be fully trained by the best professionals in the world, but actually have a chance to be noticed by those professional teams as well. We, the people trying to push paintball forward in the Latin America countries, and the sponsors who believe in the need to create something players can strive for, came up with the Latin American Dream Team concept to explore these opportunities.
We invited all competitive paintball players from the 18 Latin American countries where paintball is played to apply for the chance to get on the new team we’re creating. We set basic pre-requisites, like a minimum of 2 years playing experience, must already be on an active team, have the ability to attain a United States Visa and finally, have the financial ability to continue to travel to United States should they be selected for a US or Latin assembled Professional Paintball Team.
Every player looking to be part of this amazing idea had to answer questions, such as: “How long have you been playing?”, “Where do you Play?”, “What active team and leagues are you a part of?”, and most importantly, “What would they do as examples for others to follow in their footsteps?”.
In order to achieve this goal we are selecting 50 carefully scrutinized and voted upon players to come and train for 1 solid week in Orlando, Florida Oct 7-11 at Central Florida Paintball near the PSP World cup 2013 in Polk City. Their pro trainers are Oliver Lang (SD Dynasty), Mike Paxson (LA Ironmen), Thomas Taylor (Sacramento XSV), and myself, Tony Perez (Former Avalanche / Nexus Player).
These pro coaches are World Champions with incredible amounts of experience but, more importantly, they have the crucial skill of seeing and developing new talent. During this vigorous training program, we will push the 50 selected players, testing their physical and mental abilities in order to find the most skilled players. The players will also be trained in the tactics, strategies, and mindset employed by the best professional teams in the world. We will be filming and taking notes on each player during the entire process.
At the end of the week, the coaches will select the 10 best players to represent all of Latin America at the 2013 PSP World Cup in Division 1 as the Dream Team. We had overwhelming response when we released this idea to the Latin American paintball scene, receiving 218 applicants. With the challenge of selecting the 50 who will travel to the states, we sent the names that passed all the pre-requisites to the individual league administrators, forum moderators and long-standing industry leaders country by country. Through a point rating system and amongst 4 independent votes per country, 50 finalists were selected. From what we have seen, it’s been an honor for the selected players who were picked country to represent their local scene.
After the intense week of training and tryouts, the final 10 players will be selected, and moved to a new location close to Polk City, where at this point they will be fully sponsored and treated as if they were a US professional team. Thanks to the sponsors supporting the Dream Team; HK Army, DLX, Dye, Kee Action Sports, Gen X Global, Guerrilla Air, Primelink Sports International, and Tippmann who all have committed to picking up all the expenses for this venture. The 10 best players will be completely and fully sponsored, as well as showcased to the existing pro teams currently competing in the World Cup. The 20 current PSP pro teams will have the opportunity and full access to choose from the Dream Team as new members for their 2014 rosters.
It’s an exciting time for Latin American Paintball, and we are looking forward to cultivating a new generation of paintballers, who will be given an opportunity to some off their skills to the world like never before. Some of the players, and their respective paintball communities, have gone to great lengths in order to be a part of this, and we’ll be talking about some of them as we make our way towards the PSP World Cup in just two weeks.
Mark your calendars for the biggest tournament in the world, the 2013 PSP World Cup, which takes place at the Fantasy of Flight, in Orlando, Florida. The best teams in the world will be fighting across multiple divisions of competition to determine who’s the best. Paintball Access will be bringing all the action live, October 18th-20th. Don’t miss it!
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