We got in touch with the great folks at Dublin Roller Derby to gather some insight into why one of Ireland's fastest growing sport is gaining such traction.
We'll be honest, even the vegetarians among us are already contemplating signing up for the next round of 'Fresh Meat'! This sport involves serious skill, feisty spirits, enchanting team camaraderie and killer puns! (Oh... and it's not just for girls!)
Have you seen her yet? The girl with the books under her arm running to class, some stickers on her folder you can’t quite identify, maybe she/he is on the bus carrying a helmet that doesn’t quite fit into the oversized bag they are lugging about. Maybe they are tall or maybe they are short. Maybe they can run a 10K without stopping or can just manage 1k with ten stops. She is you and she is me and she is a Derby girl. A Roller Derby girl to be precise.
So what's Roller Derby all about?
Roller Derby is a fast and furious sport played on roller skates, it is quick, strategic and it is fantastically fierce. Roller Derby is a fairly new sport in Ireland, It can be taken up at any age over 18 and is growing so fast in Ireland there are already six leagues dotted around the country. Dublin Roller Derby (DRD) set up in 2009 with eight skaters, one coach and two referees. Today DRD league has forty three team skaters and officially seventy two skaters in the league. Of course the league can’t run without officials and DRD are lucky to have a full team of referees and NSO’s (Non skating officials) to officiate at every training session and game. Belfast Roller Derby and DRD are the first leagues in Ireland to be accredited full by WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association). At the end of the 2014 season DRD B-team ranked 85th in Europe, climbing twenty eight places, whilst the A team finished in 12th in Europe. 2015 has seen DRD add a C-Team, taking a hugely proud step in becoming Ireland’s largest league with enough skaters to now start an intra-league.
How do you play the sport?
Firstly Derby is played on a flat track (a P.E hall). In short, Roller Derby consists of two teams with five players on track at a time. The aim is to score more points than the other team. Games are split into two 30 minute halves and each half into as many two minute ‘Jam’s’ as possible. There are three types of position on the team, Jammer, Blocker and a Pivot. A Jammer is the official point scorer. They are fast-paced, aggressive and move through the pack to score points with the help of their team mates. The jammer can be identified by a star that can be seen on their helmet. Blockers; are the rest of the pack including the pivot, they work together to stop the opposing jammer from scoring points and to fend off the other team. A pivot will keep control of the pack and decide on strategy and can be identified by the stripe on their helmet. Referees and NSO’s ensure fair play and keep order throughout the jam. To watch and learn about this and see for your self why this sport is gaining such momentum check out www.wftda.com and watch games on www.wftda.tv
I can’t skate at all but I’m interested....
Don’t worry! Even if you never played any sport before, you can join roller derby, DRD will guide you every step of the way! When you first join, you begin in a beginners programme called “Fresh meat”. This is essentially ‘Skate 101’. How to stop and start, turn, weave and skate backwards. Most beginners look like Bambi in the few first weeks, but finding your feet is a huge achievement. After eighteen weeks you will have a skills test. When you pass you become a Rookie. Rookie level skaters begin to learn game play and strategy, now the fun really begins. Onto the next level, moved to advanced skater where given enough practice you overtime become eligible for a team. Want to sign up? Email, email@example.com
It still sounds a bit scary...
There is plenty to get involved in. The great thing about Roller Derby is the community you become part of, you can check out DRD’s website www.dublinrollerderby.com. The league needs all hands on deck and DRD are always looking out for people who want to be officials. You can find out more about officiating here by emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org
DRD A-team skater ‘Ellie Beating’ says “As a derby skater, I see my height, weight, shape in a completely different way. It's such a positive environment and there's not a single skater in our league who wished they hadn't have found derby sooner in life”.
Roller derby is for everyone, with Ireland having a women’s and men’s national team and there is even a World Cup. Eleven skaters from DRD made last years national training squad. The team travelled to Dallas Texas to compete. Ireland finished 10th overall out of 30 countries!
So what’s left to discuss? Get involved because it is the best sport you have never considered and as every Derb knows it
......“Life is better on Wheelie Shoes”.
If you are looking for a new sport and this article has peaked your interest, don't hesitate. Get in touch and get involved today! Derby is an nationwide sport. You can find details of your nearest club on Irish Roller Derby's Facebook page
Keep up up to date with Dublin Roller Derby, (including live match commentary!) through @DublinRD on twitter