Roller derby is a unique game: few other competitive sports have players who go by such drag queen-esque pseudonyms as Fi Fi la Gore.
La Gore is one of the Sydney City Assassins’ newest recruits, but despite the camp moniker, she explained to Sydney Star Observer that the game isn’t for the faint of heart.
“I joined as ‘fresh meat’ in August last year, and I’ve been training hard since then. I played my first public bout last Saturday night — that’s how long it takes to get your skills up.”
The effort the women put in is rewarded on the track, with massive crowds turning up to cheer them on as they race — and tumble — in the quest for more points. The Assassins’ next game, against the Northern Brisbane Brawl Stars on May 22, is at the Hordern Pavilion.
It’s all part of the explosion of interest in the sport, helped along by cultural references like 2009’s roller derby-themed teen flick, Whip It.
“I think all the leagues are struggling with this issue — the game’s enjoyed a massive surge in popularity, but people don’t realise it’s a nine to 12-month process to get trained up,” la Gore said.
“Our last intake of players was late last year — we had around 50 skaters come through. We’re busy trying to absorb all of them, because that’s a massive leap in numbers for us.
“It’s a lot for us to take on, so our next intake won’t be until September.”
And with such a strong female sport, it’s only natural that many of those attracted to roller derby are queer.
“Absolutely. I’m a lesbian and there are quite a few on the team. We’re very well represented, both in terms of our supporters and our league. But we’re a diverse, inclusive team — we have people from every spectrum of sexuality.”
So, gay or straight, the Assassins need Sydney’s support this weekend when they do battle with the Brisbane brawlers.
Do the women play nice off the track?
“Of course! Every league in Australia is very supportive of the other leagues. Skaters in other leagues come and train with us on request, and we’ve sent our experienced skaters to train up those in other leagues.
“It’s all very friendly … until we get on the track.”
info: Visit www.sydneyrollerderby.com