FORGET Dancing on Ice. Another form of competitive skating is taking south Essex by storm – the American sport of roller derby.
You might not have heard of the tough, high-speed sport, but on Canvey, a group of gals has its skates on and is proving it has the right moves.
The Seaside Siren Roller Girls meet and practice weekly at Waterside Farm Leisure Centre, Canvey.
It started off with just a handful of women a year ago, and the Sirens have 14 raring to-go-ladies – some professional career women and some fulltime mums.
They are the area’s first “full contact” roller derby league team. The largely-female American skating sport is described as a kind of “rugby on rollerskates”, though in movie terms, St Trinians-meets-Rollerball is probably nearer the mark.
Angela Kruyer, 30, is team manager of the Seaside Siren Roller Girls. She said: “We are a friendly, diverse, and probably slightly mental bunch.
“We have professionals, mothers, students and wives of all sorts of ethnicities and all backgrounds.
“We practice once a week at Waterside Farm but we are hoping to soon start having bouts where spectators can come and watch.”
It might not be the most ladylike of sports, but roller derby is certainly fun to watch and fun to play – though players can definitely expect to come away with a few bruises!
Angela added: “You’re gonna fall over and you’re going to fall hard, but that’s what all the protection is for.
“We wear helmets, knee pads, gum shields – you name it!”
The sport is destined to become better-known and even more popular when a new Hollywood film, starring Drew Barrymore, hits the UK’s cinemas in April.
In Whip It, Barrymore plays an indie-loving misfit who copes with her small-town misery by joining the local roller derby team.
Angela said: “We’re expecting a lot more interest when the film comes out. We’ve asked local cinemas if we can go down and skate around at the time to help promote our club.”
The group is always on the lookout for new members and you don’t even need to be an expert rollerskater to join in.
Angela explained: “We’ve had women join who couldn’t skate at all. What’s most important is the will and passion to really want to learn.
“We work with new members to train them up. It’s also a great way to lose weight. Skating around for an hour burns off loads of calories.
“We would urge anyone who is interested to come along to one of our practice sessions and watch us.”
A full bout of roller derby is is made up of two-minute sessions, each called a jam. It’s played on an oval track, with are five players on each team.
The object of the game is for certain players – called jammers – to overtake members of the opposing team – known as blockers – and score points.
l For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.seasidesirenrollergirls. com, or the group’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/seasidesiren rollergirls