Primed for contact

Players prepare for a return to Roller Derby action this weekend. Photo: Amy Stephenson.

Men are rolling into the arena of Roller Derby for the first time in the 10-year history of the sport in Tauranga.

Roller derby returns on Saturday, when local team Moana Roller Derby take on their Hamilton counterparts - Hellmilton Roller Ghouls’ Hells Belles – at the main event at 1pm.

Then, at 3.30pm, history is made with a mixed gender game against Hamilton. It is Moana’s first game involving women and men since the inception of the league more than ten years ago.

“It had been discussed before, and we had to have a special meeting to gather votes,” says Moana Roller Derby member Fiona Cameron.

“We wanted our league to move in a more inclusive direction.”

An extended off-season delayed the return of roller derby this year, however Moana skaters are thrilled to be finally back on the track in front of family, friends and fans.

In any other year, skaters would return to training in February, in preparation for a season opening game in March.

Now, the team have to squeeze almost seven months of skating into just three.

Despite the disruption, the Moana squad have kept a busy schedule in 2020, having recently returned from a trip to Palmerston North.

The team also hosted a closed-door double header in mid-September. This was intended to be the league’s first post-COVID event, however the region’s return to Alert Level 2 delayed the comeback again.

New Zealand is one of the only countries in the world able to return to public play under the return-to-play guidelines created by the sport’s governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

Roller derby is a full-contact sport played on roller skates, with four ‘blockers’ and one ‘jammer’ from each side taking to the track.

A team’s blockers must try to assist their own jammer past opposition blockers, while preventing the opposition jammer from passing them, using a combination of strategy and physical contact.

Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre hosts the game on Saturday, with doors opening at 12.30pm. Entry is $5 for adults and a gold coin for children aged 5-14 years.

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