Wheels in motion for roller derby players

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Roller derby action as Liverpool face Oxford. Pic © Daisy Scott JMU Journalism

Liverpool Roller Birds are part of the action-packed women’s contact sport, Roller Derby, which is aiming to raise female participation in the game.

The high-speed, full-blooded activity is exciting to watch, and the LRB have two teams, Liverpool Sisters of Mersey and Yellow Shovemarines, offering women of all shapes, sizes and skating abilities the opportunity to take part.

Roller derby is played by two teams of five members, roller-skating in the same direction around a track. One aspect consists of a series of short match-ups (jams) in which both teams designate a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.

The sides attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own —in effect, playing both offence and defence simultaneously.

With its origins based in the banked-track roller skating marathons in the 1930s, the sport is beginning to gain a larger following each season. It is currently under consideration for the 2020 Summer Olympics, with LRB having a team since 2008.

As it is full contact, players have to be over 18 to participate, though there is a non-contact version for anyone younger.

YouTube: Daisy Scott

The Liverpool Roller Birds currently sit 16th out 60 in the national league tables, and have a rating of 611.2. Taking on the Oxford Wheels of Gory, who are 29th in the standings, in the last game of the season at Greenbank Sports Academy, the home team lost out as the visitors won 176-142.

As an all-female team, the Roller Birds were asked to participate in Liverpool City Council’s strand of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, originated and supported by Sport England.

Roller derby action as Liverpool face Oxford. Pic © Daisy Scott JMU Journalism

The campaign focused on encouraging women to get out and get active to challenge themselves and their assumptions about what being active means for a female.

Emma ‘Bones’ Pomeroy, who is a member of the Liverpool Roller Birds, said: “What is great about derby is that you do not need to be a certain size or shape to be good. Whether you are tall, short, thin, curvy, or somewhere in the middle, you can bring different strengths and skills to the game. I think that probably helps make it attractive and inspiring to young women.

“Quite a few derby players I know would say they were not particularly sporty at school, but love derby and really have got into it as a result. It is a physical contact sport, which is fun in itself, but it is also sociable and you have the support of your team.”

[NB. As its contact, you have to be over 18 to play. There are leagues, more in the USA than here, that have junior leagues for under 18’s who play a non-contact version.]