Impact intro!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The Edmonton Impact is hoping to make an impact with the public.

Becoming the first-ever professional paintball team in Canada, Impact players are trying to sell their events as a real sport worthy of attention.

"You are seeing a lot of guys get paid now," said Impact player Josh Davey.

"It's blowing up in the United States - it's a billion-dollar industry.

"And you have got teams playing all over the world."

Competing in the 18-team National Professional Players League (NPPL), the Impact will play five league events starting next month in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Owned by Bart Yachimec - the owner/operator of seven car dealerships in metro Edmonton - the Impact will operate on a budget near $100,000.

However, the players won't be paid directly by the owner in the first year.

Instead, the nine players will earn money through sponsors and by placing in the top four of events.

In total, the Impact are scheduled to play in 14 events with the hope of splitting a big enough prize money pool to ensure every player will earn between $10,000-$40,000.

But the ultimate goal is to grow the sport to a level that's comparable to south of the border.

"(The sports) is just underexposed right now," said Yachimec. "TSN has been showing it for the last three or four months. It just needs more exposure.

"There is a player that signed last year for $100,000 in the United States."

According to some figures, paintball is apparently the third most popular extreme sport in the world with more than 10 million people playing in the U.S. in 2004.


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