13 August 2019

Canberra Roller Derby League all dressed up and nowhere to roll

| Michael Weaver
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Member for Brindabella Joy Burch MLA (with arms raised) with the Surly Griffins and Black n Blue Belles during a Canberra Roller Derby League game at Southern Cross Stadium in Tuggeranong. Photo: Michael Weaver.

The Canberra Roller Derby League (CRDL) is literally all dressed up with nowhere to roll.

While the CRDL has a place to play, access to a training venue is an ongoing problem and one that has secured 542 signatures in a petition to the ACT Legislative Assembly. The petition closed on August 9.

The petition draws attention to the lack of indoor facilities for training and competition games and requests the Assembly urgently review existing facilities to ensure that the sport has the required facilities for future growth and demand.

Since the petition has more than 500 signatures, it will be referred to the relevant Assembly committee for consideration.

The League’s competition games regularly draw crowds of more than 400 people and are currently held at Tuggeranong’s Southern Cross Stadium. Organisers mark out the court with white tape, which includes a lane for the skaters and another for the referees. There are also issues with skaters marking the surface that is regularly used for netball and basketball.

However, the lack of a suitable training venue highlights the pressure on indoor sports venues in Canberra. Region Media first reported on the CRDL’s lack of a training venue in February this year.

The Woden Valley Community Council has also prepared a proposal for a $30 million multi-purpose indoor sports stadium in Woden, which will provide facilities for basketball, netball, futsal, gymnastics, badminton and roller derby.

CRDL vice-president Holly “Holy Roller” Wright, from the Red Belly Black Hearts, said they have approached a couple of warehouses in Fyshwick, following their former training venue at the CIT at Woden being vandalised and condemned.

“We don’t want a purpose-built venue,” says Holly. “A warehouse in Fyshwick would be perfect as we just need suitable floor space.

“Niche sports like roller derby are growing, and we know there are others like us, so we may be able to share a space to make it viable.”

CRDL executive committee member Karlee “Hurt E Gertie” Carter, who plays for the Black n Blue Belles, said roller derby not only provides hard and fast impacts on the court but has an even bigger impact as an outlet for women’s sport.

“I have four daughters and, apart from the traditional sports, there’s not a lot out there for girls as they tend to get shunned from many of the contact sports. I find roller derby really boosts your self-esteem,” Karlee said.

“We don’t necessarily want a you-beaut facility. We just need access to a training venue.”

Member for Brindabella Joy Burch MLA sponsored the petition and was on hand to watch the recent CRDL game in front of a packed Southern Cross Stadium at Tuggeranong.

“I find it extraordinarily eye-opening to see women of all abilities competing in a sport they love,” Ms Burch said.

“If we really are a diverse community, there’s great merit in supporting the participation in roller derby as a viable avenue for women’s sport.”

According to their website, the Canberra Roller Derby League is Canberra’s premier all-female, flat-track roller derby league. Established in 2008, CRDL has been growing ever since and comprises more than 100 active skaters split into four home teams and referee crew. A select group of dedicated and skilled skaters are also chosen to represent the league, known as the Vice City Rollers and are currently ranked 2nd in Australia and 22nd in the world.
In April this year, they competed against some of the best teams in the world in Arizona.

There is also a Varsity Derby League featuring two women’s teams, a men’s team and an ungendered team. They have been training in Queanbeyan because they also can’t find a suitable venue in the ACT.

You can find more information on the Canberra Roller Derby League website.

The Surly Griffins and Black n Blue Belles in action during the last CRDL game at Tuggeranong. Photo: Nathan Roberts Photography.

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@Jeff Smith, I’m assuming you mean the old mPowerdome site? This was an indoor tennis facility with a special multi-layered poured sports floor. It has a slightly bouncy feel to it which would add some rolling resistance and probably not suited to the needs of the roller derby.

Where was MLA Joy Burch when her Government removed three school sports halls at Mt Neighbour, Urambi and Village Creek that hosted martial arts and other indoor sports, dancing and play in Tuggeranong?

Where was Ms Burch when the M Powerdome closed over a dispute with the government about participants spilling out of the car park and parking on the dirt verge?

Where was Ms Burch when the Woden basketball centre was taken away?

Where was Ms Burch when the ACT Government announced funding for indoor netball at Calwell ‘only if Labor won the federal election’?

It’s time people called Ms Burch out for the ‘decline’ in Tuggeranong’s sporting/community facilities, services, education and economic scoring that have occurred on her watch. It’s Not time to applaud her for sponsoring a petition to address issues that she helped create.

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