Profile on South African Team Reaper
Reaper have been a dominant force in South African paintball for many years and have proved themselves on the international stage by winning events in both the Millennium and PALS series. 2012 will prove to be a challenging year for the team as they start the process of rebuilding the team after losing some key players in the off season. Paul Grobler from the SARPL caught up with Nick Birch from Reaper to find out more about the team’s history and some insight into the team’s plans for the future.
Photo’s courtesy of Gaston Roulstone – Switch Media
Reaper has been around for years and is slowly creeping onto a decade in the sport. What’s the history behind Reaper and the connection to the old Team Evil?
Team Evil was formed in 2000 by Steve Da Magalhaes, my brother Chris Birch and myself. Along with a couple of other players we won every major event except SweetSpot, where we took second place against London Nexus, who played alongside a few local players from Port Elizabeth. Team Reaper was founded in 2004 by Keith Morris as a B division 3man team. But by the end of 2004, Team Evil was taking strain financially, so some of our players were asked to guest on Team Reaper to make up a 5man squad. At the first event of 2005 at the Pink Open, Team Reaper took 1st place in two of the three divisions and a 2nd place in the third division, almost making it a hat trick.
With such a young and solid squad, team owner Keith Morris put a sponsorship offer on the table that the sport had never seen before in South Africa. This saw the merger of Team Evil with Team Reaper, forming Reaper Evil Legionnaires. We continued to dominate the sport locally and internationally, becoming the only Team in SA to win events overseas and every major local league in South Africa. Later the name Evil Legionnaires fell away and now we are just known as Team Reaper.
You guys lost some of your players coming into 2012 season. Who are the new faces on the team and who is on your guy’s roster for 2012?
Yes, we lost a couple players at then end of 2011 and with the team on the brink of falling apart we decided to bring in some younger players who we hope will carry the Reaper name for many years to come. Tristan Birch (15) who was practically born into paintball, Conner Closs (16) and Dominique Da Costa (18) all showing massive potential, a lot of heart and the right attitude for the game.
You guys have clearly played many different events and formats in the past years, what events and formats are you guys playing this year.
This year we are supporting two leagues SARPL (South African Regional Paintball League) and GPPL (Gauteng Professional Paintball League) with our favourite being the SARPL.
You guys have had a long-standing relationship with DYE and Proto, how has 2012 been so far with them behind you guys again?
It’s a great feeling having the support of one of the biggest and best paintball companies in the industry behind us, and we owe a huge portion of our success over the last six years to DYE. As without their equipment and support we would have never achieved what we have today.
You guys have had a rich history of winning events, and are still the most successful South African team ever. What are some of the most memorable moments that you guys have had as a team?
That’s a tough question as we have had so many. Ones that stand out, would have to be our overseas victories, World Cup Asia (Div 1) and the Millennium World Cup (Div 2) in France.
With so much success in the past, how often do you guys train and what does a typical practice consist of?
Some of our players train almost every Sunday but we have at least one scheduled practice the week before every event. Practice consists of a 30 min stretching session followed by some one-on-one warm up games, a couple drills consisting of snap shooting and running and gunning drills. We usually end off our practices by playing a couple of games against other 5 man teams.
You guys had an amazing year overseas in 2007, competing in the PALS and taking 2nd overall in the series and have played numerous Millennium events and a PSP World Cup. How have all those events changed the way that you guys view the game locally and do you guys have any plans to attend any overseas events this year?
After playing overseas a couple times we actually realize that Paintball In South Africa is not too far behind with regards to skills and teams, but as far as hosting events we could play a little “catch up”.
It is also not as easy for us in South Africa, as there is no funding or government support like most other countries have. We also do not have any manufacturers of paintball equipment backing up the leagues so it is not easy. We take our hats off to the guys that run leagues in South Africa, as they do a damn good job considering the position they are in. As for playing overseas this year we have no plans but next year you will see us in Asia for sure.
You guys have gained a lot of respect from local and international players, but also a lot of negative feelings from local players and teams about your success, how do you guys deal with situations like these?
It’s not always easy, but everyone is entitled to support their favourite team. As long as they are supporting a paintball team that’s great for all of us. As for Team Reaper, we are going to keep doing what we do best and we thank the people that do and have supported us.
Any last words for new and upcoming players and teams who want to learn from the Reaper machine?
Don’t give up and you get what you give. Reaper train almost every Sunday at Paintball City, so if you have any questions or need help with training, then don’t hesitate to ask.