Women's Roller Derby: Leeds writer provides lowdown on sport

The high-octane sport of women's roller derby is the subject of a book being written by a Leeds researcher.

Samantha Holland, research fellow at Leeds Metropolitan University, is investigating the newly-revived sport – which involves two all-female roller skating teams attempting to pass each other around a track at speeds of up to 30mph – from a sociological point of view.

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She has begun looking into the area of gendered sport, violence and injury by studying roller derby techniques and matches, as well as interviewing players in the UK, US and Canada.

The US-invented full-contact sport – with outfits of hot pants and fishnet tights – has recently seen an international revival with teams popping up all over the world.

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Leeds Roller Dolls team practises at Holt Park and Garforth leisure centres and has been training for two years.

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Dr Holland said: "The women I am speaking to report that joining a roller derby league was one of, if not the most, enjoyable, challenging and exhilarating things they have ever done – despite some of them recovering from injuries including a dislocated jaw and a broken leg.

"I want to find out how women rationalise the very real risk of serious injury, as well as examining issues such as sexualised display; physicality and empowerment; friendships and pleasure.

"Being a derby player requires a certain amount of fearlessness and aggression not usually associated with women. Yet lots of different women of all ages and sizes and professions play roller derby."