brought to you by DRD roller: Whirl Domination
Being a third culture kid gives you an interesting vantage point on the
world. It has advantages like being able to make a home anywhere in the world,
knowing multiple languages, and being accepting and understanding of different
cultures. The disadvantages include a lack of permanence, the heartbreak of people
constantly coming and going in your life, and having to give a complicated
answer to the question, “Where are you from?”
Few of Dubai Roller Derby’s skaters are native
to Dubai/the United Arab Emirates. This is not because we have any kind of
restrictive or exclusionary policies but because of the U.A.E.’s demographics.
Roughly 80% of the population is expatriate. Local (Emirati) women also tend to
be from more protective family backgrounds. Athletic Emirati women are
certainly the exception to the rule although this is slowly changing. We’re
proud to skate with some of these exceptional women.
Possibly the primary factor that limits the
growth of derby in this region is the transient nature of the population. Most
people come here early on in their careers, at a time when their lives are
changing rapidly, stay for a few years to benefit from the tax-free environment,
before returning to their native countries to establish more permanent homes.
While they’re here, they take advantage of
Dubai’s proximity and ease of access to many tourist destinations, and travel
frequently. This constant turnover of people, and serial absence of skaters
makes it difficult to plot and monitor progress of an individual skater, and of
Expatriates also tend to take long breaks from
work in the summer to escape the scorching, draining temperatures. This
discontinuity certainly slows our progress. I’m sure this is the case for other
cities that have a high percentage of expatriates such as Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong,
Cairo, and Bangkok.
Another factor that has severely hampered our
growth is the lack of infrastructure to support us. At the peak of the quad
skate fashion, the U.A.E. was little more than a desert, and as such, has no
old roller rinks, no old skates, no former wheely-disco-divas. Although today we
do have an indoor ski slope!
Culture probably does play a significant
factor in our challenges as the athletic development of girls and women is
considered secondary to their moral well-being. Athletic facilities that women
use are primarily built for men. We know that many derby leagues began in
parking lots etc., but try skating in 99% humidity, and 50°C.
Recently, finding a decent sports hall with
skateable flooring, has given our league a much-needed boost. With a consistent
practice location and regular times, we’ve gained a good reputation, garnered a
lot of media attention, and gotten a lot of new skaters.
As it stands, the Roller Derby World Cup’s
eligibility rules need to be modified to be able to include places like the
U.A.E., Singapore, Hong Kong, Qatar, Egypt, etc. and our particular social
make-up. My biggest hope for derby is that it develops to make provisions for
teams like ours.
I don’t want much else to change. I worry that
as the sport grows, people jump on the bandwagon and beat the horses. Right
now, I like that derby isn’t about money. I like that I’ve got an international
sk8rhood. I like that we’re fierce, and I like that we have to fight for our
right to party.
Dubai Roller Derby
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