Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Roller Derby Girls Play for Keeps and It's for Real

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Roller Derby Girls Play for Keeps and It's for Real

Article excerpt

Byline: Mel Buttigieg

MENTION the words roller derby to any baby boomer, and you'll receive flashbacks of the 1960s television spectacle, where men and women sent limbs flying as they thumped each other into side rails, in a staged wrestling-on-roller-skates type of broadcast entertainment.

Flash forward to 2012 and the modern game is a far cry from its origins more than 50 years ago.

The edgy sport spectacular played by fiery women has transformed the game into an eight-wheeled modern day gladiatorial battle, minus the soap opera.

The all-female, full-contact sport is one of athleticism, skill and strategy, far from the spectacle it once was.

But that's not to say it's not spectacular to watch, one blasting with confidence, raw aggression, passion and fierceness. There's a reason why roller derby is one of the country's fastest-growing sports a the fastest-growing women's sport in the world.

At last count, there were 80 flat- track leagues in Australia, including 20 in Queensland alone.

The Land Down Under even fielded a team in the first Roller Derby World Cup, held in Toronto, Canada last year. And our girls held their own, ranking fourth among international heavyweights USA, Canada, England and other European teams.

Australia is the home of the fastest-growing roller derby community outside the US. International roller derby advocate Ivanna S. Pankin, who runs world-renowned derby skate shop Sin City Skates in the US, said the sport's popularity in Australia was huge.

aMy unofficial take is that Australia has the next closest growth of derby after the US, based on interacting with Aussies, visiting to coach and talking to so many Australian skaters through my day job,a Ivanna said.

So it's no surprise the underground sport has evolved into the mainstream arena.

In its southern hemisphere debut, Roller Derby Xtreme will feature 28 of the world's best skaters on a state-of-the-art banked track. …

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