By Mutsa Makuvaza
ZIMBABWE international midfielder Marshall Munetsi, who plays for French top league side Stade de Reims, might have shocked some Warriors fans into thinking he has abandoned football and joined the French military.
The 25-year-old shared photos of himself and team colleagues out in the woods, fully kitted in outdoor combat attrire including safety goggles, leading to some Zimbabweans joking that he could have signed up for an army job in France.
Prominent Zimbabwe Warriors fan Alvin Zhakata joked that a certain online newspaper known for sensational headlines would run to town with a story that Munetsi had deserted football for the army.
Well, Munetsi explained that he was playing paintball with team mates just to unwind during pre-season. Reims’ pre-season training is taking place at Raymond Kopa Training Centre Bétheny, France.
So, what the heck is paintball?
Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with spherical dye-filled gelatin capsules called paintballs that break upon impact. The sport originated in New Hampshire, U.S., in the early 1980s and has since spread to Europe.
Paintball games are played on indoor or outdoor fields of varying sizes. Paintball fields, or game zones, are populated with natural terrain (such as trees, trenches and hills) and artificial obstacles (such as wooden bunkers, barricades and fortresses).
Popular game objectives include capture the flag, attack and defend, total annihilation and protect the president amongst many others. Most importantly, the game helps emphasize the importance of team work, fair play, and alertness. These are priceless qualities any player such as Munetsi need to keep honing.
Paintball games usually last ten minutes each half but games can go on for hours, or even days depending on the paintball operator.
According to prominent paintball facilitator Delta Force Paintball, paintball is statistically safer than rugby, football and even golf! The first rule of paintball, which is always strictly enforced by most reputable paintball providers, is to always wear your goggles when in the game zones.
Like any other sport, paintball has its own specialist equipment and accessories. First up, there’s the paintball marker; without this there would be no paintbal. The most important bit of equipment you will need for paintball is goggles.
One also needs padded ninja suits to keep themselves clean, a hopper and a battlepack to keep the paintballs safe and and protective body armour. Armoured gloves and cricket boxes are also used.
Munetsi said he had a good time and learnt vital skills to help up his game in the coming Ligue 1 season.
Charity and new season
Munetsi was in the country in May after the end of the 2020-21 season. He spent part of his off-season break doing charity work where he visited school students in Mabvuku, Harare who are benefiting from his Marshall Munetsi Foundation.
The 25-year old also travelled to his home village in Chikwaka, Mashonaland East to donate football kits to Kadyamadare Primary School.
The 2021/22 French Ligue 1 campaign will begin on on 7 August 2021 and Stade de Reims will face OG Nice away in their first game. □