Roller derby rolls in on Saturday

    Southern Most Skaters members (from left) Rebecca Herzig, Helen Robinson, Ashdee Wilson, Christine Livingstone, Row Shawn, Annabelle Gilmore and Molly Duthie get ready for their roller derby debut.

    IT took years and a lot of work for Invercargill to have a roller derby team – now it is ready to rumble.

    Southern Most Skaters coach Ashdee Wilson said roller derby had become increasingly popular and she hoped an inaugural event at Anzac Weekend would bring even more awareness and exposure to the sport in the region.

    Roller derby is a contact sport in which teams try to notch up laps around a track and physically stop their opponents doing the same.

    Since she moved to Southland two years ago to study nursing, Wilson has been trying to establish a team to reconnect with her passion.

    She coached and played for a Nelson team for several years and was surprised there was no roller derby team in the deep south.

    “It is taking a long time to get it off the ground, but we [the team] are finally getting there.

    “Because it has never been [something] big in Invercargill, people have never been exposed to it but I believe that now it is getting this traction so we hope it will bring even more people to the sport.”

    Fifteen members make up the Southern Most Skaters with just two of them having experience playing the sport.

    Invercargill woman Molly Duthie said said it was the unusual nature of the sport that led her to join the team.

    “What I loved about it is that it was something non-traditional. It is different and fun.”

    While Helen Robinson highlighted the inclusiveness of it, saying it was an activity for any “shape and form”.

    Ms Wilson agreed and said the team was open to anyone over 16 years old.

    “Roller derby is one of those sports that people can enjoy in all fitness levels and all body types.

    “There is a place for everyone… and I believe it’s a sport which helps people to be proud of themselves while they are having fun. There is no shaming here – just support. It is like a family.”

    In an aim to bring even more awareness to the sport, the Southern Most Skaters will promote Invercargill’s first roller derby event on Saturday, April 23.

    Six teams from across the South Island will descend on Invercargill to showcase their hits and moves during three games.

    Tickets will be sold at the door for each of the games and there was an option of buying a pass for all games, she said.

    “It is so exciting, especially with Covid, there has not been really any roller derby competition in the country or even worldwide.

    “We are very fortunate to be able to bring this down to Invercargill and I think it will put us on the map.”