Buvette Masthead

Canberra Roller Derby League: Bout 3

Sophia Dickinson

From four determined women practising in a car park in 2008, the Canberra Roller Derby League (CRDL) has grown into a local institution with 100 members including referees, NSOs (non-skating officials who do important tasks during bouts such as taking stats, running the penalty box and score board and timing jams), referees and associate members. There are currently around 50 bouting skaters and 30 newly bout-ready skaters.

2008 was all about recruiting skaters, training and learning the rules. The dedicated group of original skaters trained twice a week, and travelled to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney to learn from existing flat track roller derby leagues.

In 2009 the league got funding from the ACT Women’s Office for coaching and to establish infrastructure to make sure the league runs the way the founders envisioned. This infrastructure is still in place today with an elected executive committee who make decisions on behalf of the league and numerous organising committees who take care of everything from media, sponsorship, fundraising, events, to training and admin.

The league debuted with the Carnival of Carnage on 20 June 2009, with an exhibition bout between the Candy Caners and the Hot Jammer Donut. In October 2009, the first three-bout season commenced with the Black ‘n’ Blue Belles and the Surly Griffins. Two more home teams, the Brindabelters and the Red Bellied Black Hearts, were introduced in 2010.

2010 also saw the creation of CRDL’s representative team, the Vice City Rollers (VCRs). They have been competing in various tournaments around Australia since 2011. They have held the Eastern Region Roller Derby tournament cup for the last four years. They’ve also competed in every iteration of the Great Southern Slam, a nation-wide tournament held bi-annually. In 2014, the VCRs came third in the competition, and Australia. They were also recently ranked in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association listing, debuting at around 150th in the world.

In 2013, the league hosted its first tournament, Skate-Turion, to commemorate Canberra’s centenary. This saw representative teams from all over Australia compete in an epic two-day tournament. This has now become an annual tradition, with ‘Skate of the Anzac’ held in 2014 and ‘Quad save the Queen’ held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June 2015.

Ensuring skaters are safe, skilled and smart is a major focus for the league. New CRDL skaters must complete the ‘Fresh Meat’ program. An initial 10-week program covers basic skating skills and concludes with an intake test. If the skater makes it past that, she undergoes a series of ‘star tests’, all done on skates.

Over a period of around six months, the skater must prove a range of skills and build up to contact and bout situations. ‘White star’ basics include a five-minute endurance time trial of lapping the track, ‘derby stance’ to show good form and posture on skates, jumps, stops and falls. ‘Yellow star’ adds fitness, strength, balance and ‘weaving’ (moving through a line of other skaters). Finally there’s the ‘orange star’ test which, if passed, permits the skater to participate in a bout. This involves a speed test, blocking, stopping and agility.

The CRDL gives Canberra women the opportunity to show of their skills in a local, national and international arena. They’ve had skaters on Australia’s representative team in every World Cup. They’re also renowned around the country for their excellent tournaments and organisational skills.

The next home bout is Saturday August 15 at Southern Cross Stadium in Tuggeranong between the Black n Blue Belles and 2014 champions the Surly Griffins. Get along to see the ladies in action, wear blue to support the Belles and green to support the Griffs.


the essentials

What: Canberra Roller Derby League bout 4

When: Saturday August 15, doors open at 5pm for 6pm start

Where: Southern Cross Stadium, Cnr Cowlishaw St & Athllon Drive, Tuggeranong

How much: $12 adults, $7.50 child (5-15 years), kids under 5 free, $30 family (2 adults, 2 kids) through Moshtix


Sophia Dickinson

Sophia is a true Canberra girl having been born and raised here, and she now works in the public service. She loves Canberra for all it has given her from a great education, fulfilling work to opportunities to indulge her love of dance and music. She is passionate about travel and writing, and studied post-graduate media and communication. She has appeared in several local amateur theatre productions, although she prefers to be an audience member these days. More about the Author