THIS MAY be the only sport where tight, sexy shorts and fish-net stockings are regulation gear.
The sport is Roller Derby – roller skating like you’ve never seen before.
The game consists of all-woman teams of all ages, sizes and professions, dressed in sexy shorts and fish-net stockings, on roller skates.
“It is highly addictive, fast-paced, full contact and it’s stealing the spare time of mothers, daughters and sisters the world over,” said Aimee Olsen, aka Faye Tality, captain of Mother City Mayhem, the Cape Town team founded last July.
Roller Derby originated in the US as an endurance racing sport in the 1930s. Around early 2001 it was re-invented by a group of women from Austin, Texas and has since taken off all over the world. In SA it is fast gaining momentum and has drawn the likes of TV presenter Sade Giliberti.
“It’s accompanied by a DIY punk rock attitude, and it’s a prerequisite to take on a persona, an alter ego of sorts. Pseudonyms are generally of a satirical, humorous or pseudo-violent nature. Getting first pick of the best names gets just as competitive as the competition itself,” said Olsen.
Melinda Lotz, aka Miss Chieff, co-founder and chairman of the C-Max Roller Derby League, the first in SA, said the tight shorts and fishnets were there to make them go faster.
“You don’t want anything that’s baggy to hook on somebody or something – plus they make us look hot. We are all women and we get to dress up to the nines for the derby without being judged for it,” said Lotz.
There are currently two teams in the C-Max Roller Derby League – The Thundering Hellcats and The Raging Whoremones.
The first Roller Derby bout on the African continent was held in Joburg in March. The next will be in July.
“It takes time for a team to be ready as the skaters first have to go through minimum skate requirement training to ensure that they are competent and able to skate safely before they are allowed to partake in any physical contact.”
The game consists of a series of two-minute “jams” where players skate around an elliptical track. Each game lasts an hour. There are five members on the track: the jammer (point scorer), three blockers (defensive/ offensive players) and a pivot (last line of defence and pace keeper).
The pack starts rolling on the referee’s first whistle and the jammers sprint on the second whistle. The jammers’ aim is to make it through the pack of skaters and skate a full lap to enter the pack again. Once they re-enter the pack, they score a point for each opposing skater they pass.
The skaters in the pack do their utmost to stop the opposing jammer passing them and scoring points. They do this by body checking opposing players, shoving them out of the way or knocking them to the ground.
“We train really hard and a big part of our training revolves around learning how to fall correctly, ensuring that you use your protective gear correctly. The most common injuries are some wicked bruises, which are more like trophies than anything else.”
A proper pair of derby skates costs R1 800, a helmet R350 and knee, elbows and wrists padding R700.
“To see women move like figure skaters and then block like rugby players is something that gets under your skin. The part I really enjoy most is that I see how much happiness roller derby brings to the women who take part in it. They become more confident and just radiate energy,” said Lotz.
l To join, contact Mother City Mayhem at www.facebook. com/MotherCity MayhemRoller DerbyLeague or e-mail cmaxroll erderby@ gamil.com
nontando. mposo @inl.co.za