IN the world of sport there are few activities where women lead and men follow but that’s the case with roller derby, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in Glasgow on March 11.

“The female driven aspect appeals to many women because although there are men’s teams they have really followed the women’s game rather than the other way around as it often is in sport,” said Glasgow Roller Derby member Puma Thurman.

“It’s full of strong female role models and we’re a very inclusive sport — as a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association member we play by their rules which are very trans inclusive.”

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Roller derby is a contact sport on quad roller skates played on a flat, oval shaped track.

A team is made up of fourteen skaters — there is one “jammer” and four “blockers” on track for each team during each two minute “jam”. The jammers are the point scorers and line up behind the blockers whose aim is to block the opposing team’s jammers from getting through while trying to make sure their own jammers get past to score. Each game lasts an hour.

“It’s a very fast game and is good in terms of cardio as well as making you very strong,”

said Thurman.


THE Glasgow team was the first in Scotland and was set up by two women whose playing names are Mistress Malicious and Teri Toxic. They had a friend in a team in London and were inspired to set up a team in Glasgow. The pair put up a post on social media to see if there was any interest and after a good response held a training session in Kelvingrove Park. The group then moved to Kelvinhall before moving to the Arc at Glasgow Caledonian University where they play now.

The team played their first game against London Rockin Rollers in March 2008. Glasgow Roller Derby now has three teams – Irn Bruisers (A team), Maiden Grrders (B team) and Cannie Gingers (C team) and three home teams who play intra-league games.

The players have been very successful and in 2015 the Bruisers went to compete at the highest level of roller derby at the WFTDA Division 1 Championship Playoffs in Jacksonville, Florida, and the same year won Division 1 of the British Championships.

A team was set up in Edinburgh the year after Glasgow started and there are now teams in Dundee, Aberdeen, Ayrshire and Inverclyde.

“It’s pretty popular and growing,” said Thurman.


GLASGOW Roller Derby has three intakes of new players every year and women go along who have never skated before, not even as children.

“We do a full 15 week learn-to-skate course that they have to pass before starting to play contact games,” Thurman explained. “The course covers everything from learning to stop to increasing speed so that they can do 27 laps of the track in five minutes which is roughly a mile. That’s to make sure they are fit enough and have the skills to play without coming to any harm.

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“There are occasional injuries but we do everything we can to prevent them. No one is allowed to play without their safety equipment and you are not allowed to make contact above the shoulders or below the knees.

“You do need kit but lots of teams have a selection of old kit you can try out and there are lots of groups on Facebook where you can get second-hand stuff. You need rollerskates, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards, helmet and mouthguard.”


FOR Thurman it is the first and only sport she has ever stuck with.

“It is a very supportive, inclusive environment,” she said. “I love the community as they are very accepting and there are no starring roles. I could never have imagined playing a sport publicly but this is very much a team sport and I am fitter than I have ever been. It is a great thing to be involved in.

“What appealed to me is that nobody has done it at school so you are not going into a sport where other players have lots of experience and you are the complete newbie. That’s a big side of it and it is also very feminist which I think comes down from the governing body, the WFTDA.”

To celebrate the 10th anniversary a special event is being held on March 11 at the Arc. There are three games featuring skaters from teams all over Scotland and the UK. The games will be for Rising Stars (inexperienced female players with 0-3 games experience), Co-Ed (mixed level men and women) and Advanced (experienced women).

“We are very excited about the anniversary,” said Thurman. “It is to say thanks to all those who have supported us over the last 10 years. We have invited every league in the UK to send skaters – everyone we have played in the past – and there’ll be a free skate at the end followed by an afterparty. There’ll also be other events throughout the year to continue the celebrations.”

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