A Skate Odyssey, Round 2 – FIGHT!

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Last May, Central City Rollergirls set off to a very sunny Gent, Belgium to compete at the second installment of A Skate Odyssey. With SKOD III being CCR’s third tournament abroad we are honored to be offered a spot at this year’s event and another intense campaign trail to win the coveted Jawbreaker trophy!

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(Photo from the SKOD facebook page)

Last year CCR finished a respectable 4th place after a nail biting semi-final with the hosts Gent Go-Go Roller Girls (166-158) which was highly regarded as the game of the tournament.

CCR are fresh from a very narrow defeat at the hands of fellow SKOD competitors Middlesbrough Milk rollers and are ready to take on Paris Roller Girls in their first heat of SKOD.

The last time Paris and Central City played each other was back in November 2013 where Central City took the win 226-201. It was a hotly contested game as both teams had made huge improvements in their rankings and both competed at a consistently high level through the year. Although Central City missed out on playing the Parisian champions of SKOD last year they are gearing up for another close game.

Never a team to shy away from a challenge CCR have been training hard in the run up to SKOD III competing in the premier division of the British Championships alongside Tiger Bay, Rainy City, Glasgow, Auld Reekie and Middlesbrough. It has proven a fruitful tournament so far with CCR seeing massive improvements in their score differentials. With one installment left to go, SKOD will prove to be the ultimate challenge with 3 games over one weekend and perfect preparation for their final games of the Brit champs against Rainy City and the mighty Auld Reekie Rollergirls.

Captain of the A Team Tinchy Slider gives us the low down on this CCR’s season so far and the aspirations of this year’s squad for SKOD III:

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(Photo by Silke Lambrecht)

TS: “We can’t wait to get to SKOD. It’s coming in the midst of very busy month for our A Team. May has seen us already face MMR in a British Champs tournament and we’ll end the month with a weekend of games in Glasgow. SKOD itself will be a peak for us as we get to meet some familiar and not so familiar opponents. We’ve been building in lots of preparation over recent months and have spent much of March and April focusing on our teamwork and strategy. We’ve also been working on our fitness and resilience which will help us to cope with the intensity of the month ahead. 

We’ve met a couple of the SKOD teams recently – MMR and Hellfire – and the games have been competitive. We’ve played Paris, Dublin and Gent in the past but it’s been a while and their squads are looking a little different so those are all tough teams to call. We haven’t skated against Newcastle, Nantes, Dirty River or Copenhagen but have been doing our research to gather as much info as we can.

Our first game will be against Paris on Friday at 15:45 Belgium time (14:45 UK time). We’re expecting it to be challenging – Paris have been going from strength to strength and have held their ranking despite a pretty big shuffle in their squad. But CCR have been going from strength to strength too and we’ve have pitched ourselves against some some pretty tough competition so far this season. We’ve taken away lessons from every game we’ve played and we want to put this into practice in Gent.

I’m feeling confident going into the tournament. We have a small but determined crew of skaters heading over and we’re all going into the tournament prepared to push ourselves to our limit. These skaters are committed and hard working, and I’m so proud to going out on track with them.”

Veronica Fever from hosts Gent Go-Go shares her thoughts on this year’s event:
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(Photo from SKOD facebook page)

VF: “We (Gent Go-Go) are very happy to be organising this for the third year in a row – when we started this, we really wanted it to become the spring WFTDA tournament in Europe. A real institution, something everyone knows, like ECDX in the USA  and although we are operating on a smaller scale, I think we really have established ourselves as a cool tournament that people want to come to and that is organised in a most professional way, with the best possible officials etc.

And for this year, we’re really happy to welcome a whole new bunch of teams to the tournament. But we’re also happy that last year’s winners Paris are coming back to defend their title and that CCR are also making the return trip of course (shall we do that semi-final game again? J)
I think many of the teams that are coming over are very similar in level, and so we are hoping for a verrrry exciting tournament with some real nail biters. 

Central City are also very proud to announce that well respected league officials Metal Ed and Head of Officiating Rollin’ Rat will both return to SKOD this year in stripes ready to enforce the rules and showcase their excellent skills on the European stage. Both Ed and Ratty are seasoned in tournaments abroad and are very excited to be participating in this year’s event.”

Metal Ed shares his thoughts on the run up to the weekend:
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(Photo by Oliver Vax)

ME: “I’m really looking forward to SKOD, it’s such a good, enjoyable tournament and it has become a popular and permanent fixture in the roller derby calendar. I’ve been lucky enough to be at all three so far and I’ve seen it grow and develop in to what it is now, and hopefully continue to be a bigger event in years to come.”

It’s certainly shaping up to be an excellent weekend for European Roller Derby!

Teams list: Gent Go-Go (Be), Central City Rollergirls(UK), Nottingham Hellfire Harlots (UK), Middlesbrough Milk Rollers (UK), Paris Rollergirls (Fr), Newcastle Rollergirls (UK), Nantes Derby Girls (Fr), Dirrty River Roller Girls (Fin), Dublin Rollergirls (Ir), Copenhagen (Den)

The tournament will be streamed from http://www.wftda.tv  FREE OF CHARGE but please do DONATE what you can towards Gents costs for providing this awesome tournament to the world online.

You can donate by clicking the ‘donate’ button on the SKOD website www.skod.be

CCR join ‘Wheels4Wheelz’ initiative with new charity partnership

Words by Rachel Abbott

General pictureDo you remember what it felt like when you first put on that pair of stinky hire kit skates for the first time? Of course you do. For me, that was about 10 months ago. If you ask newbie skaters like myself to describe what that felt like, you’re likely to hear words like “bambi” “clumsy” “foreign” “out of control”. We weren’t born with wheels strapped to our legs, so naturally learning to use them is a completely alien concept; one that requires good coaching, hours of practice, and the right equipment.

There’s also the long term, experienced skaters who, after injury, find themselves having to re-train their body back to using their wheels. This can be a very frustrating and long process, as one skater told me: “When I broke my leg, after the initial shock had worn off and reality set in, I very much doubted my ability to walk let alone get back on skates again. I felt like a huge part of my life had just been taken away from me – not just roller derby but an active lifestyle. I watched practices and games and ended up just crying from frustration.”

MalachiAs part of our exciting plans for 2015, Central City Rollergirls have decided to support a national charity that also operates in our local area of Birmingham. Whizz-Kidz provide a range of mobility equipment to children with disabilities, to give them independence at home, at school and at play. They also provide wheelchair skills training delivered by a wheelchair user, Ambassador clubs support by volunteers. There is one of these clubs operating monthly in Birmingham.

Did you know that there are an estimated 70,000 disabled children struggling to get a wheelchair that meets all their needs? When I spoke with Vicki Rowles from Whizz-Kidz, she explained to me how the standard NHS wheelchairs are often limiting, uncomfortable and often don’t adapt to the child as they grow – this can cause frustration, and pain for them, as their equipment doesn’t meet their needs. It also can impact on their ability to socialise or take part in sport – heavy manual wheelchairs need a carer to push them – which can be a bit of an issue if you’re 16 and want to hang out with your friends! It would be akin to a skater wearing skates that were the wrong size and shape for your foot; they’d most likely hurt – and they wouldn’t suit your needs.

The wheelchair training is also a key element – they teach the children and young people how to use their manual wheelchairs, or how to operate their electric ones, or even a purpose built sports chair. Can you imagine how much harder it would have been to learn/pass your minimum skills without the support of a coach? How would you have nailed those transitions? What about laterals? These skills are fundamental to skating, as wheelchair skills are so important to these young people, whose mobility is restricted.

We value our wheels, and the mobility they give us. We know that others, like the young people supported by Whizz-Kidz, do not always have the right wheels, which limits their opportunities. Here are a few of the initial ways that Central City Rollergirls are supporting Whizz-Kidz throughout 2015:

  • Collection buckets at our games – so dig out that spare change and do something good;
  • Free entry to CCR games for young people supported by Whizz-Kidz;
  • Promotion of the great work done by Whizz-Kidz.

We really appreciate any help that our fans and supporters can give to help us contribute to the work of Whizz-Kidz – whether its financially, donating a raffle prize or anything else, everything is gratefully received.

Our next game will be on 29th March at Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre and more details can be found here.

Information on disabled access at the venue can be found here.

If you’d like to find out more about the work that Whizz-Kidz do, please visit http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/

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Captain’s Log: New Beginnings

3 Tinchy Slyder

CCR’s 2013/14 season was epic in the truest sense of the word. A shift to our season dates meant that the season ran for 18 months bar a couple of week’s respite over Christmas. That’s 228 practices or 106, 704 hours on skates together. See what I mean? EPIC.

This epicness in itself brings challenges. This many hours spent with the same 30 or so people. The inevitable burnout and fatigue. The natural peaks and troughs in performance at different points in the season, for different skaters. Life. The one outside of skating. Getting in the way as it often likes to do. A lot happens in 18 months in our wheel-less worlds.

I was considering the highlights of the season, but my goldfish memory doesn’t even seem to take me back to the days of the early season. So I’m focusing my thoughts on more recent highlights.

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The first that springs to mind is the Skate Odyssey tournament, hosted in May 2014 in Gent, Belgium. We finished the tournament in 4th position having played several challenging games. The most prominent in my memory was a closely fought match-up against the tournament hosts Gent Go Go. It was one of those down-to-the-wire games, decided, literally, in the last minute. CCR had dug deep to claw out of a 50 point deficit to gain advantage in the last quarter of the game.  With a long, heart-pounding, vein-popping minute to go we watched as Gent claimed back the lead that had been so dramatically chased by both teams in the 60 minutes. Gent ultimately took the points and went on to the final against Paris. Although we lost that game, the tournament did a lot for our team. Our second tournament abroad, and one in which learned a lot about team dynamics, mental game, maintaining focus and building tournament routines. Stuff we can most definitely take with us into our new season. Other things learnt in Belgium – Belgian waffles are pretty darn tasty and coach drivers are heroes (thank you to the coach driver who found my phone on a patch of grass and looked after it for me).

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Another highlight of the season was a little closer to home. Our season-closer against Kallio Rolling Rainbow in November 2014. Again, a game decided in the last jam (we like a bit of drama) and again, a game we lost to a narrow points differential. But that narrow score line was important for us against a team we found physically challenging. We’d previously faced Kallio at Skate Odyssey in a game to decide the 3rd/4th placed team. Kallio had taken a convincing 162 – 109 win on that occasion. The closer score this time round was a sign that we had achieved some of our team objectives, to build strong walls that could withstand hard hitters.

Funny that the highlights for me were both games we lost. We know we fought hard for every point, and we left both games with a kit bag full of ideas for how to move forward.

So, moving into our new, this time shorter (phew), season what do we have to look forward to? Well, there’s the not so small matter of the British Champs. Having been placed in the Premier Tier, we’ve got lots of challenging games ahead against the likes of Glasgow, ARRG, Middlesborough, Tiger Bay and Rainy City. There’s no doubt that these are going to be some of our toughest games to date. We have several trips planned across the channel and lots of visiting teams to host.With a very full calendar and some busy weekends ahead it’s more important than ever for us maintain our focus and teamwork.

And the challenges? The biggest that comes to mind isn’t one on track, or about our opponents. It’s the sad departure of our long-time and much-respected coach Barry Fight. He’s been with CCR since it’s early inception – 7 years of hard work, dedication and bizarre outfits. Now he’s off to be awesome on 2 wheels instead of 8 as he pursues a developing sporting carer in cycling (he’s pretty darn good at it too). To fill his shoes we welcome 2 excellent coaches to our ranks IllBilly (of Southern Discomfort and Men’s Team England) and Super Nashwan (of the Crash Test Brummies). We’re looking forward to a new coaching structure and wish Barry all the best in his pursuit of awesomeness.

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I’m excited to take over captaincy of the A Team as we start a fresh season with fresh coaches and ideas. It’s all new for me, for our coaches and for the team. But we’re in it together.

Photos courtesy of Floyd King