Sport on a roll

Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby's newest bouting skaters Kelly Kirkham and Liz Griffiths.

Gippsland Lakes Roller Derby's newest bouting skaters Kelly Kirkham and Liz Griffiths.

GIPPSLAND Lakes Roller Derby is going from strength to strength, after hosting the first two rounds of the Statewide Stampede Roller Derby tournament in Bairnsdale earlier this year. 

The women’s tournament, now in its fourth year, travels the state over eight rounds throughout the season, with the fifth round this weekend in Daylesford.

Another two GLRD skaters debut this weekend as part of  Team Regional Victoria — The Rolling Matildas, who will go up against South Sea’s Roller Derby from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs on Saturday.

Liz “Griff ‘n’ Gore” Griffiths, from Bairnsdale, and Kelly “Cow Crusher” Kirkham, Sale, have been training hard in the lead-up to the bout. 

Along with the club’s existing bouting skaters, they will make up a third of the TRV skaters for this round.

Each club is limited in bouting numbers and alone, may not field a full team, so by combining clubs to form a regional team, they are able to compete in full competition tournaments. 

Skaters from each of the clubs rarely get to train together, but through modern technology and social media, they are able to share training strategies and bring it all together as a team on game day.

The TRV concept also develops wonderful, long-lasting friendships with skaters across the state.

On top of the roller derby competition program, GLRD continues to create opportunities for regional women to participate in sport by offering the Roller Skating Quad Fit program in Bairnsdale and Sale, and plans are underway for junior roller derby pilot program aimed at girls aged between 13 and 17.

The Quad Fit program was developed by Skate Victoria, and is designed to cater for people who wanted to improve their fitness through skating, but weren’t necessarily attracted to competitive roller derby. It focuses on developing roller skating skills with an emphasis on the fun and fitness without the actual contact.

On completion, skaters can move onto the Roller Derby Rookie program to prepare for competition, or continue with the Quad Fit and further develop their skills and fitness levels.

Since it began in September last year in Sale and Bairnsdale, GLRD have had more than 50 females go through the program, aged from 12 to 55.

Some are revisiting their earlier years spent skating at the local rink, some are intrigued by the action and excitement of the game while others, who don’t fit the sporting ‘norm’, find roller derby a great alternative group and team sport. 

While it’s predominantly a women’s sport, a growing number of males are joining the GLRD program.

GLRD president Kylie Fordham said roller derby was a sport everyone could get involved in, at all levels.

“We often get parents joining in with their teenage and adult children,” she said.

“Our male numbers have been climbing consistently as we see the growth of men’s and mixed gender roller derby throughout the country. We welcome all genders, fitness and skill levels to the sport and are able to adapt our program to suit everyone.

“The main thing about roller sports and derby in particular is it attracts all types and brings people together in a fun and social way, while inadvertently improving skaters overall fitness and well being.

“One of the most rewarding parts of running the Quad Fit program has been seeing the skaters improve and build their confidence both on and off skates throughout the term and year.”

The club’s next Quad Fit term begins in August. Expressions of interest are now open.

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