Roller derby women (and men) are here

IT WAS brought back to life from the seventies and now the entertainment equivalent of rugby on wheels has been brought to Ipswich.

Roller derby attracted thousands of spectators in Brisbane and Melbourne 30 years ago but folded under the popularity of wrestling.

It involved teams of generally women skating around a track trying to knock the other team out of the competition.

To jazz things up a bit more, competitors took wild nicknames and dressed in brassy costumes.

Two years ago, Brisbane cab driver Anita Knight, aka Evil Doll, revived roller derby and the Australian Roller Derby League was born.

After a while, Evil Doll left that league to become president of the Brisbane City Rollers, which recently relocated its base to Ipswich.

Kim Droney of Brisbane City Rollers said she suggested the league move to Skateaway at Bundamba.

“We had trouble finding venues and I'm an Ipswich girl so I said: 'Hey, there's a great rink out here, why not just move the league out to Ipswich?'” Ms Droney said.

“Now we're finding we're getting a really big following from people in the western suburbs of Brisbane and in Ipswich.”

Without much promotion, the first night about 30 skaters turned up. Now they have about 25 regulars and about nine guys.

She said the league used Facebook and MySpace to launch “fresh meat drives” to encourage people to get a feel for roller derby.

“We get people from all backgrounds. We get a lot of mums. I think they have a lot of frustration they want to take out,” she said.

Men are involved too, she said, and skaters ranged from 18 years old to about 43.

“There are a lot of people who wouldn't normally get into the sport and they see it as a great challenge to get out there in a contact sport,” said Ms Droney, who is a graphic designer.

“Most derby girls never guess they have this persona where they are so determined and focused. You switch on to that mode and everything changes. That's part of the reason why we have the derby names. It's also a nod back to the past, to roller derby in the 1970s.

“My roller derby name is Kimmi DaKleaver. Quite often we get girls who come out of their shell through derby. They have been really quiet and it seems to bring something out of them and they rise to the challenge.

“I'm not an aggressive person in real life but something changes when I step on the rink. That's the element of roller derby that fascinates so many people.”

• Brisbane City Rollers train at Skateaway in Bundamba on Tuesdays from 7pm to 9pm and Sundays 4.45pm to 6.45pm.

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