First published on 26 Dec 2012. Updated on 11 Jan 2013.
This is a contact sport with wheels: each team has a designated ‘jammer’, who scores points by passing players from the opposing team (four blockers) who do their best to thwart her attempts. But more than just tough shoving and quick skating – each bout lasts no more than two minutes – roller derby also incorporates a strong performance element that includes punny or alliterative nicknames that players adopt to channel their tough girl personas (traditionally, it’s only played by women, but men are welcome to join the training), and dressing up in pretty togs and makeup to get sweaty in. It’s been popular as a spectator sport dating back to the 1940s in the US – let’s face it, who doesn’t like watching girls rough it out?
The local team here is called the Chilli Padi Derby Girls, which was formed in 2010 by returning Singaporean Taferine Huang (aka Riot Mamba), who had skated with a Queensland derby team while studying in Australia. Since then, the team has grown in numbers and gained a trainer in the form of expat Sarah Alison (aka Ecchi Killer), who cut her teeth with the London Roller Girls in the UK. Still ‘fresh meat’ in the world of roller derby, the team is working toward becoming certified fit to play in the international league and friendly games.
Safety, of course, is more than customary – pads and helmets must be secured on before stepping onto court, and one of the first things you’ll learn is falling the right way to minimise impact. Still, you’re likely emerge from trainings dotted with bruises and take more than the occasional fall – as the CPDG’s spokesperson Alex Alltherage puts it: ‘We’re a bunch of pretty badass girls and we have a rule: there are no “sorrys” in derby.’
The training sessions also cover blocking and bout tactics, and match fitness is also worked on to make sure everyone’s in good shape to give it their all. One major caveat to joining the CPDG is that participating in this sport requires an all-in commitment right from the very start. The team doesn’t usually have spare gear for the still-deciding ‘fresh meat’ to loan for trainings, and while rollerblades are tolerated, you’re encouraged to get your own pair of quad-skates and game-ready protective gear, which can cost upwards of $400 for a basic set, to fully take part at trainings.
Difficulty factor: 3/5. The toughest part is the being able to navigate your way around using skates. Get that down and you’re ready to be tactical.
Equipment required: A pair of quadskates, protective pads (for the knees, wrist and elbows), mouth guard and helmet – available from the Gossip store at *SCAPE.
Training days: 7.30pm, Tuesday & Thursday at *SCAPE Playspace; 3pm, Saturday at Tampines West CC.
How to join: Visit www.rollerderbysg.com or like the Chilli Padi Derby Girls’ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thechillipadis) for updates. You must be older than 18 years old to take up the sport.