To get involved in Roller Derby, you need to be resilient, and that resilience has been tested in a new way by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a regular game of Roller Derby, players need to be able withstand great pressure, knocks, and blows as they race around the track.

Off the track, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a new kind of blow with Roller Derby shutting down, leaving players itching to put their skates back on and get rolling.

The Sydney Roller Derby League and all other Roller Derby clubs in Australia are governed by the American League, WFTDA.

Many of the policies and COVID restrictions placed on the sport are created by the WFTDA, consequently trickling down into other nations, like Australia, which participate in the sport.

Red Zeppelin, a player for the Sydney Roller Derby League says: “So we pushed and pushed and told them our situation, and we asked them to implement phased steps or whatever it took.”

With it eventually paying off, Australian Roller Derby has only recently managed to get back to doing what they love.

For Derby players, it’s all about their passion and love of the sport. Many resorted to other sports during their break, such as roller hockey and general roller skating.

For many players, the love of Roller Derby also comes from the sense of community that comes with the sport.

Sydney Roller Derby League player Unsteady says, “It’s really inclusive, really encouraging of one another, really supportive and there’s a huge array of the types of people and demographics, ages and everyone’s history and orientations. Everyone’s a human, we’re all just humans here. It’s a really nice way of approaching life in society.”

Red adds: “It’s a really beautiful and competitive sport. It’s also constantly evolving and you’re constantly learning, even if you’ve been playing for ages.”

“And then the people are just incredible, everyone helps to create a really great community. Very accepting, very encouraging and although it’s a competitive sport, there’s a great sense of family.”

Players passion also extends into their pockets. The sport doesn’t have many sponsors, so players chip in monthly to make everything possible for themselves.

A few teams had sponsors lined up in 2020, which greatly benefitted the league’s travelling teams, but the COVID-19 pandemic has once again created more disruption to these plans.

COVID has benefitted the sport in some ways, however. Having more free time to pursue interests and viral video app Tik Tok trends have launched roller skating into the new ‘it sport’, and Roller Derby has seen this interest flow over to the sport, with try outs and people attending learn to skate sessions almost doubling in size.

Roller Derby players couldn’t be happier with the influx of interest, as Unsteady says: “There’s a genuine sense of ‘I’m sure you will love it if you try it’, which is genuinely quite true. And if you don’t, well then, you’ve lost nothing, and we would have loved to meet you.”

With a new year, new interest and what many would argue is too long of a wait to return to the sport they love the most, Sydney Roller Derby League and many others in Australian Roller Derby are itching to go.

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