Roller derby a growing sport in NZ

November 11, 2016

Roller derby a growing sport in NZ

Roller derby is a thrilling, fun and positive team sport, says Brittany Baker of the Auckland Roller Derby League. Photo: supplied / Auckland Roller Derby League Facebook page

With leagues from Invercargill to Hawke's Bay, roller derby is “definitely” becoming more popular in New Zealand, says a member of the Auckland Roller Derby League (ARDL).

Brittany Baker, 20, was one of several team members who helped out at the ARDL open days at the ActivZone Indoor Sports Arena in Glenfield over the weekend.

As well as gauging interest, this was an opportunity to create a positive space for people to learn basic skating skills, said Ms Baker.

“It’s crucial to get people feeling comfortable,” said Ms Baker.

She said the response was good, with 20 attendees over the two days.

Ms Baker said there are misconceptions about roller derby – “that it’s big hits, a spectacle of sorts” – but maintains that skill and precision on four wheels is essential.

As with any sport there will be injuries, but no more than any other contact sport, said Ms Baker.

Auckland currently has two leagues, the ARDL and the Pirate City Rollers. They often train together and are on friendly terms. While most leagues are female only, ARDL is open to all.

Ms Baker said the best things about the sport are the sense of family and the positivity.

“As a league we are very proud of the fact that we don’t just create great skaters, we create great people.”

Janette Avis, 51, said she came along to the open day as she’d admired the game as a spectator for years.

“I love the speed, the competitiveness, the adrenaline,” said Mrs Avis.

While she said she is unsure if she will continue on to the offered roller derby course, she said she would love to continue to practice skating.

Another participant, Leah Karetai, 19, was encouraged by Ms Baker to come along to have a look. After seeing how much fun the other attendees were having, Ms Karetai decided to give it a go herself.

As a contemporary and jazz dancer she said roller derby “isn’t really her thing” but she had enjoyed the day.

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