Roller Derby: The empowering female sport

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For anyone that doesn’t understand how it works, Roller Derby can look like madness.

However, a group of inspiring women from Staffordshire and Cheshire say that the game has helped to improve their mental health.

The Railtown Loco Rollers, a team based in Crewe, is made up of women of all abilities and from all walks of life.

The motto is that anybody of any age, size, ethnicity, religion or ability can take part in roller derby.

Roller Derby is a tactical game and is a contact sport played on quad skates on an oval track.

There are two teams made up of four blockers known as the pack and one jammer, who wears a helmet with a star on it.

The jammer starts behind the pack and must get around the track as many times as they can.

They score one point for every player that they pass of the opposing team.

The blockers have to try and stop the jammer on the other team while also trying to help their own.

No grabbing or tripping is allowed, however the players can use full body contact slams or shoulder hits, which often sees players falling over.

The women are quite often left with bruises or injuries, but a real sense of community spirit can be felt at games and at training.

The Railtown Loco Rollers take their sport very seriously and get guest trainers and experts in to help them just before a game.

Betty Briarley used to play for the Stoke team before becoming a jammer at the Loco Rollers.

She explained how she got into the sport: “It was about seven years ago now. I saw the sport online and thought it was a great way to get fit because I’ve never really found a sport that I can get into.

“One popped up in Stoke, so I joined that and I’ve been skating ever since.

“Everyone’s welcome, it doesn’t matter your religion, your age, your gender, size, anything, you can join roller derby and not be judged.

“The girls here are amazing, they’re supportive with everything and you can talk to them about anything you want, it makes you feel like you belong”.

Alex Valentine plays for England and has done several training sessions with the girls.

She said: “Roller Derby is important for people to know about because it’s such a grass roots and empowering sport especially for women.

“It started in America in the 30s, it’s a mainly female sport and it’s just a great way to kind of get out there, get fit, and make new friends.

“If you want to take it to the next level, I skate for All Stars and for England then there’s that opportunity, but if you just want to get out there, meet new people and have fun that’s an option too”.

StaffsLive reporter Libby Lovell visited the Railtown Loco Rollers at one of their weekly training sessions. See the video below:

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