House debates

Monday, 17 June 2013


Banks Electorate: Roller Derby Championship

10:03 pm

Photo of Daryl MelhamDaryl Melham (Banks, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

On Saturday 15 June, I attended the Hurstville Stadium for the Roller Derby Championship. The first game was between the Central Coast Roller Girls, who defeated the Inner West Roller Derby League 326-133. The second game was between the South Side Derby Dolls and the Hawkesbury Area Roller Derby. I am pleased to say that the South Side Derby Dolls, my local team, won 426-105. The team is known as 'The Force'. Those who played on the night were KillaBee 27, London Brawling 3C, DaniHell 23, De Nominator, Agrodite A2, Porfavor 6, Fairy Bled 8, Impure Blonde 81, Apocalyss 99, Shona Mercy 616, Psychlone Cilla 185, Glam Torino 72, Britney Speartackle 360 and Cat Fink 42. The alternate was Haterade and the benchies were Aprilla the Hun (AC), and Tweek and Destroy. You can see they have got great names.

Roller Derby has moved on since the heavily choreographed days of the past. The games I saw consisted of two 30-minute halves where the players are able to play both offence and defence in a demonstration of speed, action, endurance, teamwork and, above all, heart. Within the bouts there are jams, which can last up to two minutes. In a jam, only five players per side may be on the track at the same time. Players line up on the track and one pivot and three blockers from each side take off in a pack at the head referee's whistle. A jammer from each side lines up 33 feet behind the pivots and takes off at the sound of a second whistle. Scoring begins when the jammers pass the pack for the second time and accrue one point per opposing member passed legally. There are a number of rules about the actions skaters may or may not take. It is interesting that it is legal to hit from the side, to use the arm above the elbow to block, to apply torso or hip checks and to push a team mate. There are a number of illegal things you cannot do, and, in each of the games I saw, an opposing team was reduced to one player while others had been benched—so it was one against five. One needed to be careful because, if you got benched, it was easier for the other side to score.

The women describe themselves as a bunch of regular people who like to keep fit, have fun and generally enjoy themselves. The skaters are active in the community, regularly giving blood as a group. In 2012, they raised money for the RSPCA through the Million Paws Walk and they contributed to Heart Kids by participating in the Colour Run. They participated in the Warrior Dash in 2012 and in 2013. This is the world's largest obstacle race series. They supported Rotary through the annual antiques fair, and, in 2012, the South Side Derby Dolls were given the St George Community Group of the Year Award. The ladies are always happy to be involved in and invited to a local skate park to share their skills and talk to local youth. I thank Kate Sullivan for the invitation to attend on the night. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What I saw on the night was a bunch of women and their supporters and spectators—and there were plenty there—who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The outfits were amazing, because they were all suited and fitted out, in your face and as loud as can be.

What I saw on the ring where they were roller blading was brute force at times being applied. In the first game someone got carried off. The first sight I saw when I entered the stadium was seven St John's Ambulance people and that is what struck me. I thought, 'There are going to be a few injuries tonight.' But I was assured by Kate that there are not a lot of injuries because they play it in the right spirit. The girls do look after themselves. They are fit. I found it an amazing experience. It is something I have not got the guts to do, I have not got the bravery to do.

I am told by Kate that it is the largest growing participatory sport for women in the world, that what is happening is that in a lot of places teams are growing up from the ground and they are getting 300 people volunteering to participate. They rotate from month to month in terms of players. I enjoyed myself. I commend the sport.


No comments