ARTICLE -  WOMEN IN SPORT ROLL IN               20/07/2018

Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby (GLRD) is going from strength to strength after hosting Round 1 & 2 of the Statewide Stampede Roller Derby tournament in Bairnsdale earlier this year. The women’s tournament, now in its fourth year, travels the State over 8 rounds throughout the season and is currently over half way through with Round 5 in Daylesford last weekend.

This Round saw another 2 GLRD skaters debut as part of Team Regional Victoria – The Rolling Matilda’s (TRV), who went up against South Sea’s Roller Derby from Melbourne’s South-eastern Suburbs on the Saturday.

Debuting skaters, Liz Griffiths aka “Griff’N’Gore” from Bairnsdale and Kelly Kirkham aka “Cow Crusher” of Sale have been training hard in the lead up to Saturdays bout and were ready to roll as they took to the track for the first time with the Rolling Matilda’s. Benched coached by veteran GLRD skater, Roxy “T’N’T” Wilton and alongside seasoned skater, Kylie “Sk8r McGavin” Fordham, the girls held their own against the Banshees who came out victorious on the day.

“I am so proud of the girl’s efforts and achievements on their first bout.” Said Club President, Kylie Fordham. “These girls have put in the hard yards. They have worked so hard to get to this point and their determination and focus was not lost in their game play on the day. Many people expect coming into this sport that they can just jump straight into game play but there is so much work that goes into getting a skater ready for competition and the coaches can only do so much, the rest is up to the skater and how hard they are willing to work for it.”

Team Regional Victoria, consists of skaters from various regional clubs across the State. Each club is limited in bouting numbers and alone, may not field a full team, so by combining clubs to form a regional team they are able to compete in full competition tournaments. Skaters from each of the clubs rarely get to train together however, through modern technology and social media they are able to share training strategies and bring it all together as a team on game day. The TRV concept also develops wonderful, long-lasting friendships with skaters across the state

On top of the Roller Derby competition program, GLRD continue to create opportunities for regional women to participate in sport by offering their Roller Skating Quad Fit program in both Bairnsdale and Sale and plans are underway for Junior Roller Derby Pilot program aimed at girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

The Quad Fit program was developed by Skate Victoria and designed to cater for people who wanted to improve their fitness through skating, but weren’t necessarily attracted to competitive Roller Derby. It focuses on developing roller skating skills with an emphasis on the fun and fitness without the actual contact. On completion skaters have the option to move onto the Roller Derby Rookie program (to prepare for competition), or continue with the Quad Fit and further develop their skills and fitness levels.

Since it kicked off in September of last year in Sale and Bairnsdale, GLRD have had more than 50 women and girls go through the program ranging in ages from 12 – 55. With the resurgence of Roller Sports over the last decade and in particular, Roller Derby, people from all different walks of life are being drawn to the sport for varying reasons. Some are revisiting their earlier years they spent skating at the local rink, some are intrigued by the action and excitement of the game while others, who don’t fit the sporting “norm”, find Roller Derby a great alternative group and team sport. Either way it has definitely had a huge impact on getting women, who otherwise wouldn’t participate in any sport, active and involved.

Newest bouting skaters, Griff'N'Gore and Cow Crusher

While the sport is predominantly a women’s sport GLRD are finding that Quad Fit and Roller Derby is gaining popularity for men as well, with a growing number of male participants joining the program. Round 5 saw GLRD field their first male skater, Nick “Panick” Fordham, in the mixed low contact scrimmage. Nick started in Bairnsdale in the first Quad Fit program in September of last year and has since gone on to the Roller Derby program and is currently progressing through the levels. The low contact Scrimmages are an opportunity for skaters to practice game play in a modified contact environment, with men and women competing together on a level playing field.

“It’s a sport that everyone can get involved in at all levels. We often get parents joining in with their teenage and adult children.” Say Kylie.  “Our male numbers have been climbing consistently as we see the growth of men’s and mixed gender Roller Derby throughout the country. We welcome all genders, fitness and skill levels to the sport and are able to adapt our program to suit everyone!”

 “The main thing about Roller sports and Derby in particular is it attracts all types and brings people together in a fun and social way, while inadvertently improving skaters overall fitness and well being! One of the most rewarding parts of running the Quad Fit program has been seeing the skaters improve and build their confidence both on and off skates throughout the term and year.” Says Kylie.

The clubs next Quad Fit term kicks off in August and the clubs coaches and members are excited about introducing another batch of skaters to the benefits of Roller Sports. Expressions of Interest are now open, contact the club on facebook for details www.gippslandlakesrollerderby.com.au or www.facebook.com/gippslandlakesrollerderby

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