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

Officials Countdown to Dallas

refsWords by Sleaze

When I opened an email on 23 March saying: “Congratulations!! You have been selected to referee at the Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup” I assumed there had been a mistake.

I had only applied as a joke to wind up Ratty, and had spent the month running up to the crew emails going out keeping my fingers crossed that Ed would get picked and we could start fundraising to help him make the trip.

When we all got in it pretty much blew my mind. On 5 April, Me, Ratty and Metal Ed announced to the world that we had been picked… and the fundraising began.

We asked what people would like to see us do to raise money, some said they wanted us to do things that scared us but most people wanted to see Ed do burlesque. Much as we asked him to (and God did we ask him to – repeatedly) he refused to take his clothes off. He also refused to let me cut his hair for money too. Spoil sport.

Our fundraising list began in a pub, in which we discussed ways that we could NEARLY DIE but not quite. We came up with walking on fire, Europe’s longest zipwire, zorbing and a suggestion about being launched into sea which made me grimace. We added in things people had suggested: we wash their pads (urgh no), we train their ref crew (yes!), we have a wet t shirt competition (this was purely aimed at Ed) and we do a ref role reversal game (ah-ma-zing!). And we started setting out to see which ones we could do.

Refs - All the SleazeWe started with some ref training. Crews from around the country messaged us with their situation, I wrote up catered training plans to their needs and then we drove to them to give face-to-face training, ref scrims, test them and give them feedback and encouragement.  First up was Wiltshire, then Leicester, then Cambridge then Nottingham and Wales. Met some absolute stars, got to have real in depth chats about fears, initiators, rules and progressing through the ranks. We also ate lots of meals at service stations and I nearly killed us by falling asleep at the wheel once. (Sorry mum).

Refs - BubblesThen we decided to walk on water. Ok, it was in a zorb, but still.  It wasn’t anywhere near as easy as I expected. Trav and stubble joined us, we climbed into giant inflatable bubbles and then ran around on what was basically a large pond, attached to strings so that we didn’t drift too far away. I ran aground several times, we all ran out of air at the end and one person suffered an over-extended thumb *cough* stubble *cough* but the entire thing was actually quite pleasant. MORE DANGER NEXT TIME we decided.

Refs - ZipSleazeSo we opted for Europe’s longest zip wire. MY ULTIMATE FEAR. Skew, Anton and Trav joined us. The wire was a mile long and they said you can hit 80mph on average. I HIT 92. My mum and dad came because I was certain I would die and I wanted to tell them I loved them before I did. Didn’t die. Raised some funds. I still feel sick thinking about this. LESS DANGER NEXT TIME we decided.

Next up was the referee role reversal. Organised by CCR’s Boots Manuva, the event involved refs from across Europe taking to the track and skaters paying to don stripes and ref them. Refs - JamRatI opted out because I’m not insane. I did however make the incredible art work for the FB event. So I think that counts. Oh and I bench managed Team 2.2.2. Spectators could suggest rules to be added to the game, and three of these were adapted to the WFTDA rules for each half. My favourite? Jazz hands needed to get lead. Never before have I heard so many people shout to the Dad of all refs (LRG’s Duncan Disorderly) “JAZZ HANDS DUNCAN”. Priceless. Oh and the outfits were a thing to behold, if you missed it, check out the pictures here. We had one concussion (Sorry Skew!) and Duncan’s arm fell off again. Looking at it you wouldn’t believe that it raised over £650 for us would you? Refs - JamEdCrackers fun. That’s ENOUGH DANGER FOR NOW we decided.

Coming full circle, we decided to finish how we began. Seven months of fundraising fun later and we headed to Plymouth for the final bit of referee training. A sad moment until we met that daft lot and had a barrel of laughs with them. They tried the hellahard test, then we taught them some tricks of the trade and refereed their session. Lovely finish to what has been a whirlwind year.Refs - Rattys Classroom

And here we are. Just under a month before the World Cup. Twenty-five days before we catch our flights and head off into the sunset. And OH MY GOD are we ready.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our fund altogether we have raised over £2,500 – you guys are amazing. That money goes towards our travel and accommodation while we are there. We can’t thank you enough for being so bloody generous. And thank you to everyone helped us and supported us whether emotionally or physically as we got ourselves ready for the biggest game of our lives. We will not let you down. Refs - SleazeSmack

You can still donate via this link to help get our officials to Dallas for the World Cup in December.

Photo’s Courtesy of Floyd King Photography or Sleaze’s own.

You can catch some of our officials in action at home in CCR’s upcoming match up against Kallio Rolling Rainbow on November 22nd. More details on the Facebook event here.