Hanna-Rose Abdul Jalil, 29, is a training course developer for the oil and gas industry who has dedicated most of her Sundays to her favourite sport – paintball – for the past two years.
“Many people have the perception that playing paintball is very painful and violent but it actually isn’t. It’s all about teamwork, fitness and knowing for yourself that you can handle the equipment you have on you,” said Hanna.
Although relatively new to paintball, Hanna has been actively participating in sports her entire life. A track runner in school and later a black-belt in Ninjitsu in college, Hanna first came to know about paintball while watching a corporate team-building video.
“I love playing first person shooting video games and have always wanted to be in that kind of a situation where you are with a team, planning out strategies. I’m not saying I’m violent or anything, I just enjoy the intensity!” she said.
She finally gave it a shot (pun intended) about two years ago, after much persuasion from an ex-colleague.
“She pressured me to join her team’s training session for fun. Her excuse was that she was the only girl in the team, but I’ve been hooked ever since.”
According to Hanna, paintball is different from other team sports due to its quick bouts as well as the method of communication between teammates.
“It’s extremely noisy and the way you talk to your teammates in this sport is very different. You have to keep instructions very brief and only speak in codes.
“For example, if someone yells ‘Hanna, run there!’ You’d be like, run where? So before a match we discuss as a team and memorise the codes. I don’t think any other sport practises this – especially in this type of high speed environment where each game lasts about two minutes,” she explained.
The type of paintball game Hanna plays is called speedball. It’s typically played on a flat field with inflated bunkers. Each team has a coach who oversees the entire field from just outside the playing radius, relaying the positions of their opponents.
Hanna’s team, Platinum Paintball, is made up of a group of close friends and family members. The team trains every Sunday for up to six hours when preparing for a tournament.
The highly-motivated bunch are slowly earning their stripes.
Their latest achievement was finishing third at the Paintball Asia League Series in Bangkok last March. The tournament saw some 20 teams participating from all over Asia and Australia.
The team has also gathered nearly 10,000 followers on Instagram.
According to Hanna, paintball can be a good source of side income – either from coaching or conducting corporate team building workshops. But above all, the sport has helped her maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
“When you train regularly, you are more conscious of your fitness and diet.
This sport also gives women a sense of empowerment, not just because we have to overcome the fear of pain but also because we are able to be as athletic as men,” said Hanna.
Paintball is part of Unbeatable, a series where we highlight young Malaysian athletes practicing unconventional sports in conjunction with Hari Sukan Negara.
Check out some of the videos here.