Here’s a shocking fact – two million fewer 14-40 year-old women than men play sport regularly. TWO MILLION!
However, over 20 of those women, shook off any fear of judgement that might have held them back from participating in sport and came along to the Kent Roller Girls open day last week to try the extreme sport of Roller Derby for the first time.
Often, time and cost can be barriers to participation in sport (recreational league is £5 a session on a pay as you go basis), but with loan skates and protective gear available the only restrictions were those people placed on themselves about whether they wanted to give it a go or not! The THIS GIRL CAN campaign is being run by Sport England and funded by the National Lottery has local partners to help promote uptake of exercise in women and as a result Kent Sport came to vist the team to see what they were all about and hear their stories.
One participant, Abi Oborne said, ” I bought my daughter some rollerskates and thought, actually, I quite fancy giving that a go…so I looked around and found out about Kent Roller Girls.”
The team runs itself, with the more experienced members, giving up their time to coach the beginners from scratch. “We teach people how to fall safely to start so that takes the fear out of it. Then we put the skates on them, end encourage them to get rolling, which is when the fun really begins!
“Recreational League Derby gives women a chance to have some time for themselves to see how well they can learn and adapt to a new set of skills, whilst having fun and being supported in a friendly environment,” said member Serena Gilbert, 39 ” We have women from a size 6 to 22, from under 5ft tall to nearly 6ft, it’s about whether you can give it your all, rather than how big or small you are.”
This sport is also about what you can do to be useful to the team, both on and off track, as everyone also helps by doing what they can to promote the teams games, act as officials, design tshirts and posters or write funding bids for support to buy new uniforms. Committee member Danielle said “Everyone has another non-derby life and some of those skills can come in handy when setting up a league – which could be anything from the person who organises the insurance and the rate of the hall bookings to someone who arranges to send a teammate a signed birthday card.
“It was great to have Kent Sport visit us and help raise the profile of what we are trying to do as a team – to be empowered and to empower others”, said team founder Demi. “I’m sure we found some future superstars at our Open Day, whether they go on to play in the team or not I hope that everyone found a bit of superhero in themselves – just by being brave enough to start something new.”