These girls just want to have fun

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Jo Blakemore

Derby dames: Looking for a home are roller derby girls exponents, from left, Jo Blakemore (Burlesque Bomber), Pippa Rowe (Rita Mortis) and Kelly Cournane (Arrogant Madam).

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It may be colourful smash and crash but roller derby's Pippa Rowe insists they are just regular girls who are somehow misunderstood.

That misunderstanding seems to be the problem when it comes to venue to practice for the Timaru Derby Dames.

The 20-strong group need somewhere with a wooden floor to learn their skills as they hope to eventually enter a league and play in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Rowe said they had outgrown their old training base and had struggled to find somewhere else they could afford.

"We've rung a couple of schools the girls used to attend and they seem to struggle with the concept and either say no, or not to ring back, after they clarify what exactly we are doing."

Rowe admits the tattoos and colourful hairstyles some players have are not to everyone's taste but underneath it all they are just regular girls.

"We are nurses, bakers and mums who have a passion for roller derby, like guys have for rugby." The self-confessed bunch of battlers enjoy the athleticism of the sport and theatrics of the uniform and names.

Rowe said they are a bunch of alternative individuals drawn together by a passion for the sport.

"I love the speed and aggression, you can just go out and play and it gets it all out." Rowe and friend Christina Burke started the group last May, initially with five players.

Since then they have been working hard learning the skills and travelling to watch games.

An outdoor venue is of no use, she said.

"Coming down on concrete is too tough but a gym with a wooden floor or something similar would be great."

The group had shifted to the Southern Trust Events Centre but they could only afford a two-hour hire.

"Ideally we would like somewhere else at the weekends for three hours."

Rowe hopes that the Timaru Derby Dames will be ready to compete in about five months.

She admitted that many of the team haven't traditionally been into sport, but there's something about roller derby that is open and accepting of everyone.

Rowe said it took about about eight months for "fresh meat", as new players are called, to learn the skills - including how to fall without injury.

The only major injury to date was one girl who broke her arm on the first day.

The sport started life as a simple skating race in the United States during the Great Depression and has had a renaissance. Anyone interested in joining or that has a suitable venue available can contact Pippa on 027 765-6545.

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- The Timaru Herald

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