Meet the Dorset Roller Girls who turn into demon skaters when they're on the track (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Meet the Dorset Roller Girls who turn into demon skaters when they're on the track
Helmets, protective padding, even war paint – this is no sport for the fainthearted, this is roller derby.
Ladies with perfectly respectable day jobs such as policewomen, teachers and dental nurses transform into their alter egos with names like Boots Electric and Rolling Dynamite and don sparkly hotpants, old-school roller boots and mouthguards to take part in this full-contact sport.
First started in the 1930s in America, roller derby is enjoying something of a revival of late, with an all-female Dorset team founded in December 2011.
“This is not a sport for young girls,” said player Nasreen El-Mariesh.
“This is a sport that’s dominated by really empowered women. What I love about it is that you find such a mix of women playing.”
Teams are made up of 14 players, with five girls at a time taking to an oval track.
During the two 30-minute bouts, each team’s jammer – or scoring player – tries to lap members of the opposing team.
The other players – known as blockers - try to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer, playing offence and defence at the same time.
Former ice skater Nasreen, a director for Bournemouth-based PR company Caviar, first tried the sport at the suggestion of a friend as a way of getting fit, but quickly found she was completely hooked.
“I went along in the first few months when they had just started it,” she said.
“I had no idea what it was about, but I just absolutely loved it.
“You find it’s so addictive. You skate to get fit, then you want to do off-skate training to get your skating better.”
The Dorset team was started by an ex-London Roller Girl.
In turn, the London team was set up by a couple of Americans and is now among the top ten in the world.
Training takes place at 2 Riversmeet in Christchurch on Wednesday evenings and at David English in Bournemouth on Sunday afternoons and new players and referees are always needed.
“You don’t have to know how to skate,” said Nasreen.
“We can teach people. You don’t have to take part in the games, we can train you up to be a referee and you can be a boy if you want to be a referee.
“We need eight referees per game, so it’s quite intense.”
The team takes part in tournaments all over the country, as well as training with other teams and even attending a convention in Las Vegas to pick up tips.
Some games are mixed, or girls against boys, but the sport is mostly all-female.
Starting life as a grass roots sport, roller derby has retained that ethos, with most teams today being self-run – setting up their own bouts and selling the tickets themselves.
“It’s amazing to play in a team sport and around all these strong women that look out for each other,” said Nasreen.
“Even though it’s a really tough sport on the track – it’s no hold barred – off the track everyone’s cheering and hugging. There’s a real camaraderie and sportsmanship.
“It’s a really nice community and we are known as a really nice team to play for. We play hard, but we are a really nice group and we want to keep that ethos.
“It’s a really tactical game, but it’s just so much fun.”
To join the Dorset Roller Girls, or find out more, visit facebook.com/pages/dorset-roller-girls
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