Roller derby set for take off
Article from January 31st 2018

GLRD skaters from at last years first session of Quad Fit at Bairnsdale Aquatics & Recreation Centre (BARC).

After some major changes within the club last year, including a name change and expansion, Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby (GLRD) are set and ready to take off in 2018. This year is set to be their biggest yet in the clubs 7 year history!

The changes all started early last year, with increased interest in the sport from further East, Sale City Rollers saw the need to seek a broader audience. Soon after the name change to Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby and the total rebranding, GLRD met up with East Gippsland Shire to secure the venue at Bairnsdale Aquatics and Recreation Centre (BARC) to run the first Roller Derby Fitness program in East Gippsland. The Quad Fit program is designed to cater for people new to the sport as well as returning skaters and those retiring from competition. It is a non-contact introduction to the sport where skaters improve their fitness while learning roller skating skills in a fun and social environment.

On the back of the success of the 2017 Bairnsdale Quad Fit Skate Camp, GLRD will commence its 2018 12 week programs on Sunday February 4th at BARC in Bairnsdale and Tuesday February 6th at their Dawson Street, training venue in Sale. “We have had a great response to the upcoming Quad Fit program with plenty of new interest and many returning skaters.” Says Club President, Kylie Fordham (aka Sk8r McGavin), “It’s been a really rewarding process for me personally to see the change you can make in people’s lives. I know it’s just a sport but typically Roller Derby attracts members of the community that don’t otherwise participate in team sports, or any sport for that matter.  You see people come at the start with low confidence and self esteem & you can just see the change in them by the end. Not only are we teaching them how to skate and improving their fitness but we are giving them something to look forward to, something to make them feel good about themselves and their achievements.”

Roller Derby is being hailed as leading the way in encouraging women’s participation in sport. It is also known for its welcoming and excepting sense of community, with an emphasis on mixed gender acceptance and equality on and off the track. What started as a women’s sport with men only ever seen on track as Referees or officials, there are now growing numbers of men’s teams and competition, as well as increasing numbers of mixed gender tournaments and bouts, where men and women combine. “It just goes to show that the game is changing and where it was once about brawn and how hard you could hit, is becoming more about strategic game play where all genders, shapes, sizes and strengths can go head to head.” says Kylie. 

In March of this year GLRD will further cement their place in the Roller Derby Community and Roller Derby within the region, after being announced the hosts of Round 1 & 2 of the Statewide Stampede Roller Derby Tournament to be held at BARC over the weekend of the 17th & 18th. The Statewide Stampede, now in its 4th year, is a travelling Roller Derby tournament where teams from across Victoria battle it out over 8 Rounds to be crowned the SWS Tournament winners. Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby bouting skaters participate as part of Team Regional Victoria – The Rolling Matilda’s, a team made up of multiple regional clubs from across Victoria. “We are incredibly excited to be hosting not just one Round but two over the one weekend in March. This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the sport to the region, and showcase the region to the wider sport’s community,” says Kylie. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of The East Gippsland Shire and BARC who, last year, put a lot of time into researching the sport and recognised it as a positive asset for Community sports regionally.”

Competitors, supporters and officials from across the state will make their way to Bairnsdale and surrounds for the event. Apart from the obvious financial benefits to the area, it will expose visitors to this great tourism destination as a future holiday option. The event is open to the public with competition (bouts) between 11am and 7pm on the Saturday and 9am and 5pm on the Sunday. Tickets are available from www.trybooking.com – Search Statewide Stampede. $15 for a 2 day pass (only available online) or $10 for a one day pass (one day passes available online or at the door.)

To find out more about Roller derby or getting involved in the 12 week Quad Fit Program in Sale or Bairnsdale visit www.gippslandlakesrollerderby.com.au, contact us on facebook www.facebook.com/gippslandlakesrollerderby or email gl.rd@outlook.com

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