THE Whakatane Roller Derby League are pumped up for its fourth season.
They begin with a match against Auckland Roller Derby League at the Whakatane War Memorial Centre on Saturday and jammer Dylan Henderson said they have been working hard on preparation.
“It is going to be a massive season. It is the biggest season I have been involved in and that Whakatane has had, and we are really pumped. We are just above them in the New Zealand ranking and we want to stay there.”
Henderson said they were training three times per week for the game, including two sessions of two hours during the week and a three-hour session on Sundays. The Sunday trainings have been mock games with other skaters.
The league has made big strides in its four years and earlier this year were accepted as an apprentice league into the World Flat Track Derby Association.
“It is a big deal for us and we are one of five New Zealand leagues that are a part of it. It helps us make it into international tournaments and being recognised globally.”
In June, Whakatane will compete in the Great Southern Slam in Adelaide, which will be the club’s biggest undertaking since its establishment.
Henderson’s role as the jammer is to make her way past the opposition blockers.
“The jammer is the ball of roller derby. You score the points and you take the hits, but you have your blockers to defend you.
“We have adapted our game to avoid hits, but we have some big girls in the team.
“Quite often you are hitting 400kg of women. It is tough. There are some hard hits, you come off with bruises but it is worth it.”
Henderson said an important ingredient in their success was love.
“We are a family. It is also about being part of something that is different. It is not just about sport. You have rugby and netball, sports that get a lot of attention. But we bring in a different crowd, which sometimes means it is hard to get people involved. But once they are here and see how awesome it is, they stay with it.”
Whakatane’s match against Auckland on Saturday begins at 6pm.