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Ged Green in the Hot Seat
Interview by Bill Mills

One of WDP's founders talks about the start of the company, its goals, hurdles along the way, and the NPPL Super 7 Man Series. 

How and when did you get started in the sport of paintball?
 

1986. My brother Matt organised a day for us and our mates and a big crew of us went along to a site, we had a fantastic day but knew that it could be organised and presented a lot better, so we put our money where our mouths were and a few months later we opened the National Paintball Fields, our own paintball field in our home town, Birmingham, which we still run today. We do 20,000+ players per annum. It is a class field with some real feature games, if you and Dawn are ever in sunny Brum, I can promise you a top day out.


We'll definitely take you up on that.  What prompted your move from participating in the sport to working in the paintball industry and what were WDPís first products?
 

It turned us on, we ainít the brightest people in the world, but we just knew instinctively, it was something we could do, we could feel it. Our first product was the Mamba Coil Remote in the early nineties, there were more knock offs than even my vindictive memory can recall but we were the first, that was our product, It always holds a special place with me as through this first product I met my lady, she was the Mamba Girl and if any of you have seen the adverts you will know what I mean.  I still love tying her up with those hoses to this day.


What spurned the development of the original Angel V6?
 

From the beginning, right from the start we wanted to do 2 things. Make the best paintball gun in the world and see paintball fulfil itís full potential. We have done the one and we are working on the other. The Angel V6 became a reality the day a certain Jon Rice walked into the office and we connected. I am totally convinced he had just stepped of his spaceship, he literally is the man who fell to earth. He is a genius but then again you expect spacemen to be a bit sharper than your average Jo Blow.


Here in the US, most people only see one facet of WDP - the Angel line of paintguns, and Fat Boy grips and pods.  What other products and projects has WDP been involved in over the years.
 

Once our field took off we opened a store and started to run tournaments. We ran 5 events per month for what seemed like an eternity, we pushed the tournament scene to stimulate the market for guns and gear, and learned a lot about tournament players along the way. Those events didnít earn any cash, they just kept the store busy and created more teams to play.  The whole woodland thing wasnít working for us so we sat down and thought up an arena based game that would blow the tournament scene open, get more people interested. That became Hyperball and we never ran another woodland event. The Euro scene exploded and our European wholesale business took off big-time. We ran another Hyperball event and then backed off and left it to others, itís good to be back in the Promotion business Ė feels like home!

As for products, we supply a much bigger range in Europe, we distribute for Tippmann and Scott over here as well as our own products


WDP sponsors several teams, and a few select individual players.  What do you look for in the teams and players you sponsor, and what do you expect from them?
 

Integrity and honesty which sounds a bit hollow when you look at what happened at the cup with Jeremy. But everybody loses it once in their life and there ainít nobody suffering more than him. We expect our teams to compete within the rules and win. You can see the ones who bring home the gravy, I canít put it into words, but you can see it.


For years, Avalanche has been a showcase team for WDP.  The 2002 World Cup "shooting from the woods" incident brought much discussion on Internet forums centering on the idea that one of the reasons cheating has continued to be prevalent in tournament paintball is that sponsors turn a blind eye to it, or even encourage their teams to win at all costs.  How has WDP dealt with this incident?
 

Avalanche all stood and told me Jeremy lost the plot, they said he lost it the night before, smashing up his hands, punching some statue in some theme park, they had to jump on him to restrain him. He had smashed up his hand and was out of the event. Then he pops up in the woods the next day, pulling sniper [explicative], it stunk the house out. The guys were ashamed they said we understand if you donít want us anymore. We had a straight choice, kick them on the floor or pick them up, we picked them up. But the guy who I felt really sorry for with all of that mess was Rocky he was gutted. 

As for winning at all costs, no way. Anybody who has been with us will tell you that is not the way it is in this house, no way. We have had players and team asking us to build cheats into their guns but we never have and never will. If we canít win straight, donít bother. But you know we do win again and again and again, because we have the best equipment and belief. We have players leaving us now because we wonít put cheats in their guns, thatís how bad it is getting. This is something unscrupulous win at all cost manufacturers are doing and you know the sad thing is, they still donít [explicative] win. Itís just a cancer it eats away at moral. This is a problem that exists at the grand prix end of paintball today. We all know who is doing it, but nothing is being done about it because it suits certain people. The laws are there to enforce it , but they are not being enforced, why is this? It [explicative] stinks. The NPPL Super 7ís series will see the introduction of scruntineers and this is the way it has to go.


WDP's advertising campaigns seem focused on tournament play, which most in the paintball industry say is a tiny fraction of the overall market.  Do you see the company more actively pursuing recreational and scenario players in the future?
 

In the USA our advertising campaigns are for the products we make and sell in the USA. In Europe our approach is far more broad-band. As I mentioned earlier we run one of the biggest paintball fields in Europe and sell a full range of products from Tippmanns all the way through to the Angel. We will be expanding our range of products in the future as we want to make the Angel Brand available to everyone. Having said that, when we go to events such as Paul Fogalsí World record game, we see lots of Angels there and in our opinion more of our gear actually gets used by rec-ballers than by hard-core tournament players. You donít have to be the best player in the world in order to want to shoot the best gun, you just have to have good taste and $1000


Part of the attraction many players have to the Angel paintguns goes past its reliability and performance, and on to the Angel image - the IR3 comes packed in a professional looking glossy box, with a gilded and embossed color glossy user's manual.  What has driven this idea of treating style as equally important to performance?
 

Performance is paramount, the style just comes naturally.


At the 1999 NPPL World Cup Warped Sportz teamed up with WDP to produce the "Angel Heaven" player's lounge.  That's something that's been a continued trend with WDP at tournaments around the world. What are WDP's philosophies with how to present the company at trade shows and tournaments?
 

I donít think about how we are Ďpresenting ourselves, itís not a contrived or manufactured process, itís us. What you see is what you get. We have a simple ĎWork Hard, Play Hardí philosophy with the Events, and life in general. Heaven is a way of expressing ourselves, it scares some tournament promoters, actually frightens them, they donít understand it. Others beg us to do it and give us a free reign to do whatever we want Ė they are the ones who should be scared. Bottom line itís a way for us to thank our customers, we appreciate it when they choose to buy an Angel and we want them to know it, to know that we value their support and will never take it for granted.


What do you see as the biggest difference from European events like the Millennium Series tournaments and the major tournaments in the United States?
 

The Millenniums are better, better venues, better facilities, just a better all round show. But we will be putting that right this year with the NPPL Super 7ís. Get yourselves ready, the show is coming to town.


The fall-out from the 1999 World Cup Angel Heaven was accusations that minors were served alcohol.  Citing a fear that such activity could endanger the event Paintball Sports, the event promoter did not accept WDP as a vendor the following year.  How did this affect the company's plans to appear at tournaments in 2000?
 

The alcohol accusations were bull[explicative]. My brother Jon and Danny from Rage had it well covered. It was all about me and Jon giving the promoter a [explicative]  for letting us down. Even after I had spent weeks going through the set-up with him. He didnít like a few facts of life and he has hated us ever since. Thatís what all that bull[explicative] was about. As for affecting our plans it didnít, it was only me and Jon who were banned, no biggie, no bugs, saved some bread.


Rumors circulated in 2001 that WDP was lobbying heavily take over and produce World Cup, and that one paintball magazine in particular was being guided by WDP to represent the 2000 World Cup in a bad light in order to gain support for the NPPL to change promoters for that tournament.  What light can you shed on this subject?
 

We talked to Braun once about buying it, I canít remember what that year was but he was talking telephone numbers so we dropped the idea. As for the rumors you were referring to, there is no truth to them. As for guiding a magazine - No way, we donít own any magazines or have that sort of influence over any media. 


In 2002 we saw the formation of PRO, the Paintball Referee 
Organization, in a move to start bringing professional, independent referees to professional paintball.  WDP funded the launch of that organization as a series sponsor of the NPPL.  What are the company's views on how judging should be done at paintball events?
 

We need to get something straight. Firstly, P.R.O was formed in July 2001, secondly a series sponsorship of those events cost $40,000 of product which in reality roughly equates to $15k cash. We were paying $50k in cash plus other expenses direct to Bill [Cookston], plus providing gear, equipment and time. All in all it was a bill just shy of $100k over an 18 month period. Bill was recommended to me as the right guy to head up P.R.O, in my opinion he wasnít. Re judging, it is a very flawed system where the teams referee each other. Apart from saving the promoter a few bob its negatives all the way. It is open to abuse and it is abused. We all know what goes on, also it is totally Mickey mouse. How can we be expected to be taken seriously as a sport when the teams referee each other, it just does not fly. We need impartial refereeís who are available to all, that was what P.R.O is about and why we fund it. Fast forwarding where paintball has to go, the impartiality and professionalism of the refereeís will be a major factor.  One of the key elements of communicating the theater of what is going on and down on the field will be through the refereeís. 


In late 2002, it was announced that NPPL, Inc. would not sanction any of Paintball Sports Promotions' tournaments in 2003.  WDP was the first company to announce publicly that it would be supporting NPPL, Inc. as a sponsor and have booths at its events and not the PSP events.  What were some of the reasons behind this decision?
 

We believe in the NPPL and what it stands for. As for the PSP events, they just werenít going anywhere. If as a result of the split they improve, that can only be a positive for all involved in paintball. 


What are your views on the switch to 7 man format from 5 and 10?
 

I love all forms of paintball, but for the bigger picture I feel 7 is the right way to go.  Also most of the top Proís who have played plenty of 7ís that I have spoken to feel 7ís has it all plus some.


As we are about to go into the 2003 season, we are looking at two national pro-am series in the US - NPPL, Inc. with the Super 7 man,  and Paintball Sports Promotions with their National Professional Paintball League circuit (both groups claiming they have the right to the NPPL name.)  With WDP planning to only support the Super 7 man events, what will happen to Angel using PSP competitors who will no longer have the benefit of on site tech support? 
 

As for both groups claiming the name, The P.S.P operated as the P.S.P with sanctioning from the NPPL. As soon as the NPPL did not sanction the P.S.P, P.S.P claim to be the N.P.P.L. How does that make any sense in this world or any other. People arenít stupid, they know the score. Players and industry are sick of all this political bull-[explicative], they just want us all to get on with promoting the sport. As for on site Tech-Support, donít confuse WDP not being at P.S.P events with non availability of tech support, there are plenty of events where Angel Tec-Support is there but WDP isnít. The P.S.P events in future will be handled in this way. 


WDP is entering a new role with the formation of Pure Promotions, moving from simply a sponsor of the NPPL Super 7 man to event promoter with the formation of Pure Promotions.  Who is heading up the Pure Promotions team and what experience do they have producing paintball tournaments?
 

Bart [Walkerdine] will be heading up Pure, We have been mates since we were kids, Bart came on board with WDP in the mid 90ís, before that he did nightclubs and big assed raves. Bart has always been our operations guy, He is very good. Iím going to go on a back in time deal. 95 everyoneís dressed in camo playing in the woods, 96 W.D.P create Hyperball stage a large event in Birmingham England, showcasing 1 Hyperball field, the rest are woodland, 9 months later we staged the mother event of all the concept events you see today. 4 fields all arenas full on T.V, loads of out of industry sponsors, big old party, bands, full on festival, everything it should be. After we got it out of the woods and laid the template, we stepped back to let other people get on with it. Six years later it is only really the millennium and sky dome that have got it together.  It was funny yesterday when I was doing another interview, they asked me Is the NPPL super 7ís simply going to be emulating the millennium? I thought; how can we be emulating somebody else when we birthed it. Funny old game, anyway Bart was key in all of that.


Chuck Hendsch has expressed his vision for the future of NPPL, Inc. sanctioned tournaments to move toward more support from non-paintball companies, and a push to get events broadcast on television.  What is Pure Promotions planning for Huntington Beach that will be new and innovative?
 

It is all about the product. We aim to create a tournament series the outside sponsors would be happy to be involved with. For example; we have a VIP access area at the Huntington beach event, everything is free. This area is specifically designed to accommodate Media representatives and outside sponsors. We have Champagne and Beer sponsors providing refreshment, and even have a company called Love Sack sponsoring the seating. This area overlooks the centre-court and also contains a big screen where Live interviews and games will be continuously broadcast. We have 3 dedicated staff who are calling prospective sponsors, we are out there, doing it, not sitting on our arses waiting for it to happen. For every outside sponsor we have confirmed, there are another 10 that are coming to check out the event with a view to getting involved down the line. Those people will be treated to an experience they will remember, they will be introduced to Paintball as it should be, after that, itís up to them.

Regarding the TV, pure promotions is spending big. We have not looked to tie up the first TV deal that comes along. We are making a program ourselves which will be 45 minutes of footage. We have 5 cameraís head-cams on refs, interview crews, a professional announcer and commentator and a full media production team. Footage will be beamed live onto big screens at the event and will also be available on NPPL.tv. We have Xtreme Sports companies coming to film their own footage, MTV will be there, along with more TV companies who are coming to check out the event. Again, paintball will be professionally presented to these people, they will see what this sport has to offer.


NPPL, Inc. is looking for a whole season of events, not just one tournament.  How many of these events is Pure Promotions planning to produce, and is the company looking to co-produce with any other companies or become the exclusive producer of NPPL, Inc.?
 

We have planned for 5 events in 2003 but there is the possibility of a sixth, Our door is always open to working with other people thatís what it is all about. We are about promoting the sport taking it where it needs to go so that out of industry revenue can stream in and in the not too distant future a kid with the ability can choose this as his professional sport and earn good money that is what this is all about.  When you have an industry that is sitting 3rd in the extreme sports market but has virtually no out of industry sponsorship there is obviously something not quite right, Thatís what we are looking to fix then we will be happy to back out and let somebody else get on with it, Our agenda is clear, crystal clear.


Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview.  Are there any other comments you have for WARPIG.com's, readers Angel users and tournament paintball players?
 

Thank you for your time Bill, thank you to the Warpig readers for taking the time to read this, angel users for buying the best paint gun in the world and the unswerving loyalty, we are doing our best for you, and we have some beautiful stuff coming out this year and to tournament paintball players generally for just making the effort to compete, its that that drives the sport. Hopefully we will see as many of you as possible in Huntington and at NPPL events in 2003. Peace to all. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank BE, JT, Kingman, Raven, Zap and all the series sponsors for their vision and support, also the city and community of Huntington for doing so much to make paintball welcome.  Peace to all. 

The NPPL Super 7ís at Huntington Beach February 6th-9th will be dedicated to the memory of Maurice Gibb.
Interviewer's notes:  I'd like to thank Ged for taking the time out of his busy schedule to deal straight answers to questions over conversial issues.  It has come to my attention from some feedback to this interview that some readers felt that some questions were meant to attack or malign.  Please do not be mistaken to think that these questions were posed in a purjorative manner, rather they were meant as a framework through which various issues could be directly addressed by Ged.  A number of these questions are items that I have personally been asked about by players and persons in the paintball industry who, likely due to their volatile nature were not comfortable asking of WDP themselves. 

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