|The Wimmera Roller Derby League held a Come and Try in Dimboola last Monday evening.
Thirteen participants, including three coaches from the League, strapped on roller skates and spent just over an hour demonstrating and practising the basic skills of roller skating. All those present managed to stand up and move around the court, an achievement that organiser Pru Cook noted is not always achieved by new participants on their first try.
The evening was held at the basketball stadium in the Recreation Reserve and was organised to provide the opportunity for those interested in taking up the sport to learn some basic skills and as a lead-up to an Intro to Derby Program starting next Monday, August 1st, that will run weekly into September to teach the skills of the sport and provide an opportunity to practise.
These sessions aim to teach participants the fundamentals of how to skate safely and fall safely - everybody falls - and it can take up to six months before a new player is competent enough to engage in the lower levels of competition. Several levels of competition must be mastered before progressing to the top level.
Minimum personal protective equipment worn includes a helmet and wrist, elbow, and knee guards, but can also include a face shield on the helmet, mouth guard, and various other items to increase protection of other parts of the body.
Roller Derby is a contact sport played by two teams of up to fifteen skaters. Five members of each team are involved in the play at any one time as they skate counterclockwise around a circuit track laid out on a flat space such as an indoor basketball court. During play, each team has one jammer and four defenders known as blockers on the court, and points are accumulated when the jammer overtakes opposition blockers.
A bout is controlled by seven referees on skates and ten non-skating officials, and consists of two periods of thirty minutes each that are broken into two-minute jams.
While the competitive nature of the sport is attractive to many participants, it is also an excellent way to build fitness, with some involved with the Wimmera Roller Derby League for this purpose only. In addition, with the varied roles of officials, even those who do not like the contact part of the sport, there are other ways to take part both on skates and off.
The Wimmera Roller Derby League was established in 2012 and is the only such League in western Victoria. The members combine with those from several other small regional leagues to form Team Regional Victoria to participate in the monthly Statewide Stampede competition that is usually held in Daylesford. They also regularly take part in one-off tournaments both within Victoria and interstate.