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.”
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.