Would-be roller derby skaters can now learn the basic skills that could turn them into athletes for a bargain price after Leeds Roller Dolls won £1,600 in Lottery funding.
The cash, from Sport England’s Sportivate fund, means new starters can learn how to skate with the LRD’s recreational league, the Wrecking Brawls, for just £2 a session over eight weeks.
Wrecking Brawls coach Jo Redfearn said: “This funding is going to make a big difference. The discount we will be able to offer our new intake will give them the chance to try out roller derby without making a big financial commitment.”
The league has skates and protective gear new recruits can borrow until they “get hooked”, Miss Redfearn added.
The Dolls were given help on their funding bid from Andrew Wilson, club development officer and Leeds Council’s Sport and Active Lifestyles department.
In West Yorkshire, clubs have won £1.5m from the Lottery’s £56m Sportivate fund, which was set up as a London 2012 legacy project to give people the chance to discover a sport they love with six weeks’ worth of sessions.
Mr Wilson said: “Sport England realises the importance of sport as a tool to ensure people remain active which in turn has health benefits.
“Within Leeds there has been a positive uptake from community clubs, with the funding support, clubs have been able to qualify volunteers as coaches and purchase equipment for their athletes.”
Registration is already open for people interested in starting with the Wrecking Brawls in January.
The recreational league was set up by the Dolls in August 2013, and sees skaters put through their paces learning the basics of the sport in eight week training cycles.
They learn everything from how to fall safely and stop, before progressing to the second stage of training where they are taught advanced skating skills and roller derby techniques.
There’s no pressure to pass, those who need to are welcome to go through the eight week course as many times as they wish to feel confident.
Gemma Patterson, 33, of Middleton, joined the Wrecking Brawls in April.
Since then, her daughter Matilda has joined the Doll Factory, LRD’s junior league.
“It’s challenging to learn new skills. It’s exhilarating, it’s incredibly fun and it’s something that I have been able to do alongside my daughter,” she said. “Both the junior and adult side of things is a real community experience that has improved both mine and Matilda’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
“Roller derby is the go to sport, it is completely infectious and addictive and very rewarding.”
Helen Armitage, 19, of Leeds, joined in July after watching LRD host a game between the number one league in the world, Gotham Girls of New York, and London Roller Girls.
She said: “To anyone thinking of joining, I would just say give it a go. Everyone struggles at first but you soon pick it up and everyone will be so happy to help you improve.”
PhD student Emily Ennis, 24, of Hyde Park, said learning to play roller derby gave her a “real confidence boost.”
She said: “It’s physically and mentally demanding, but there’s something about the people and the culture that make it completely different to any other sport I’ve ever played.
“Everyone is really friendly and inclusive and willing to help you achieve and succeed, even when you might feel like you’ll never manage to learn all the skills.”
Training sessions are Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings at Leeds Futsal Arena, near the White Rose Centre in Morley. To register or for more information visit www.leedsrollerdolls.com