Leeds Roller Derby is celebrating 10 years since the women’s sport – often called the fastest growing in the world – was first played in the city.
Throughout October, the Leeds team is holding a series of events to mark the occasion including a taster session, a roller skate dance class reminiscent of where it all began and tournament the ‘Great Yorkshire Showdown’, which will see teams from across the North of England compete.
The month will culminate with a double-header in Leeds on Saturday 28 October featuring both the A and B teams and the unveiling of a new logo and uniforms for the club, which formed in December last year after local rivals Leeds Roller Dolls and Hot Wheel Roller Derby merged.
Head coach John ‘Jerry Attric’ Kirkham said: “It’s hard to believe that ten years ago – when I first started Leeds Roller Dolls – there were only a handful of roller derby teams in the UK.
“We were one of the first teams outside of the USA. Now there are hundreds of teams around the world.
“There is an international tournament structure and a World Cup, which is being held just down the road in Manchester next year. It’s amazing.
“I ran a popular roller skate dance class in the city back in 2007 and many of the women who came along to that joined up so I’m hoping to see a few old faces at the event we’re putting on as part of our celebrations, as well as some new ones of course.
“I left the Dolls and set up Hot Wheel Roller Derby in 2010 and for a long time we were rivals but we’ve put the past behind us and I couldn’t be prouder of where we are today. We’ve got an awful lot to celebrate this month.”
Leeds Roller Derby’s A team has just concluded its first season in the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) British Championships Tier 1. The team has also played in two European tournaments this year. Plans for next year are still being finalised but include a game against Team South Africa, when they’re in the UK for the World Cup.
A team co-captain Claire ‘Lana Del Slay’ Charlton said: “At the start of the year our number one goal was to become a team and we’re really happy with how that’s gone. A year ago we were rivals, and the idea that we might merge, well, no one would have believed it.
“Our B teams actually played against each other at last year’s Great Yorkshire Showdown tournament, which we’re hosting on the 7th of this month.”
A-team co-captain Nina Bentley added: “It’s been a brilliant first year, and I’m so excited for what’s to come. There is more and more competition for spots on both our A and B teams and we’re getting stronger and stronger together.”
Fancy being part of the journey? Come and give roller derby a try. Jerry said: “The first event we’re holding as part of our October celebrations is a recruitment night – a totally free taster session for people to come along and see what it’s all about.
“You don’t need to have your own skates or safety equipment, you just need to book a spot so we can reserve the kit you need. Wear some comfy clothes you can sweat in and bring a water bottle, that’s it.
“Roller derby has changed all of our lives, and it might change yours too.”
Full list of events this October
- Thursday 5 October, 8pm-10pm – Recruitment Night – Ramgharia Sikh Sports Centre, LS7 3AP – Free but must be pre-booked
- Saturday 7 October, 10am-6pm – Great Yorkshire Showdown Tournament – The Edge, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT – Tickets on sale now
- Thursday 12 October, 8pm-10pm – Roller Skate Dance Class – Ramgharia Sikh Sports Centre, LS7 3AP – Tickets on sale now
- Saturday 28 October, 10am-6pm – Double-header TTBC – The Edge, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT – Tickets on sale soon
The included photograph taken during Leeds Roller Derby vs Dublin Roller Derby at EuroClash 2017 is available, and others, for use and in a higher resolution on request – please credit Vinciane Piérart aka NSP189.