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Roller derby team is cruisin' for a bruisin'
THE bruising belles of Oxford Roller Derby are back with a bang.
And the ranks of skaters waiting to knock you off your feet have swelled into a full-blown army.
Once a fledgling outfit, the group which meets twice a week at Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre in Blackbird Leys Road now has enough members for two teams.
With two crunch games coming up, one on Saturday against local rivals in Wiltshire and one against a team from France – branded Revenge of the French – a fortnight later, the sport’s stock has never been higher.
Oxford Roller Derby formed in 2010, and although initial numbers were low, the gang now has around 40 players to call on.
The game, which began in 1930s Chicago, consists of a series of short encounters in which one skater – the ‘jammer’ – scores points by lapping the other team while the rest of the team tries to obstruct the opposing jammer.
But don’t let the idea of a female-only sport played on rollerskates fool you. The idea is to inflict as much damage on your opponent as possible.
Blood flows like water, and the physical marks are displayed as badges of honour.
Ellie Hathaway, a 29-year-old firefighter from Oxford, said: “We’ve been working extremely hard to forge an identity as a team and become competitive with the peer teams surrounding us. So this is the moment we feel it’s time to show Oxford what an amazing new sport and team it has.
“We’re from all walks of life, teachers, mental health workers, all sorts, but many are not the type you would expect to play regular sports.
“There are a few tattoos, and maybe at school instead of doing PE we would be off smoking somewhere, but we have found this group and, although we don’t like using the word, it is about empowerment.
“We now have enough members for a second side, and it’s really exciting for us that we have two really big games coming up.”
The game against the French girls will have added spice given the Gaelic side were resoundingly beaten in the last encounter and are seeking payback.
Miss Hathaway said: “For a long time, it been thought of as a counter culture, but in the last five years it has become more and more mainstream. Its players are now being regarded as real athletes.
“It’s constantly evolving and setting a precedent as the majority of the sport is organised by women, for women.”
The team supports the Oxford Sexual Abuse And Rape Crisis Centre as its charity of the year.
Training sessions run every Sunday from 7-9pm and Tuesdays from 8-930pm.
- For more details, email oxfordshirerollerderby@hotmail.
- co.uk or visit oxfordrollerderby.co.uk