At Leeds Roller Derby we’re celebrating Women’s Sport Week, which provides an opportunity for everybody involved with playing, delivering, working in, volunteering or watching sport to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport across the UK.
We’ve asked a few of the women on the team to share their experience of roller derby and what it means to them. From experienced players to new recruits, roller derby has had a huge impact on all of our lives.
Women are still, in 2017, forced towards having a particular appearance, and that leads to a lot of us having insecurities and low self esteem. In roller derby, whatever your body shape you’ll find a way to use it to your advantage.
Personally, when I started roller derby I had a lot of insecurities, body issues, low self esteem and social anxiety. I was spending all my free time at home because the idea of going out of my house terrified me. I am lucky that my girlfriend also wanted to try roller derby and helped me by going to our first session together. It’s only been five months since then and now I respect and love my body, I’ve met awesome people and I have the opportunity to connect with my girlfriend on a deeper level through the sport.
I find that sports are a great tool for empowering women. We are taught since we are kids that women have to be delicate and sweet. Sports, mostly contact sports like roller derby, show us that women can be strong, tough, fast, brave, muscular, powerful and all these adjectives that society usually attaches to men. In addition to the physical part, sports help with the mental part, strengthening women’s self-esteem and body acceptance.
Before roller derby I never did any sport. I was one of those kids who hated PE, I never got involved in any team during school, and thought that going to the gym was a waste of money and time. I thought I was too old at 27 to start exercising, and that I’d get tired and stop going to roller derby after a couple of sessions. However, now I’m not only at training twice a week but I also run two to three times a week and I’m thinking about joining the gym.
Before I started training I had all kind of insecurities about my body and now I feel confident about it. Roller derby has given me the chance to truly appreciate and embrace my body as a woman.
Seeing all these badass women with all kinds of body shapes and sizes rocking the track is amazingly inspiring and it gives you a real sense of empowerment when you start developing your own skills. Roller derby has also allowed me to be part of a supportive team full of women who are always there to help each other. And that is especially important to me being in a different country, far away from my family and my closest friends.
My relationship with sport used to be really toxic, we didn’t like each other, I used to feel useless in every kind of sport. I thought my bad co-ordination and my non-existent cardio ability made it impossible for me to enjoy or be good at any sport. Roller derby has proven that wrong, and I have also realised that I can do other sports like running and cycling. Now I know I don’t need to be the best at them, I can just keep challenging myself to go further and keep feeling better about myself.
I think sport is important to women because it can show you that you don’t need to fit in the beauty standards to be fit and badass, and it’s a way to challenge yourself, push yourself further and basically enjoy the time for yourself and feel proud of yourself at every small step.