Beijing Roller Derby - How To Set Up A Roller Derby League Overseas Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of our series!

In part 1, we looked at using the internet and different forms of media to build up your league's presence, and this time we'll be looking at how to prepare your leagues resources and policy manual, finding a place to skate and how your league might find kit.

Resources

So what do we mean by resources?
Well for us it is a folder filled with tons of useful information. 

Our useful resources include:

  • Rules manual
  • Drills and coach training plans
  • Minimum Skills file
  • Rules Test
  • Password and website log ins
  • Useful websites 

It can sometimes be difficult for us out here in China to access certain websites such as Facebook, Youtube, multiple types of blogs, and anything that takes their censorship fancy...we are lucky to have VPNs most of the time, however it doesn’t stop us from downloading everything derby related and squirreling away offline copies just incase we lose that access.

So we fully recommend keeping copies, either offline, or hard copies.

Now, onto the very exciting policy manual!

Policy Manual

If you were just a skater before setting up your own league, you may have only briefly glanced at your previous league's policy manual or signed the section titled 'skater's code of conduct.'
However, now that you are setting up your own league, a policy manual would be very helpful for you.

What is a policy manual? Well it is a collection of documents that define your policies, procedures and rules which will be very useful to help you run your league. Your policy manual can come in any form, but it's always best to have both print and offline/online copies. Having a policy manual can save a lot of time should you hand over the league to new directors in the future, and can also be given to skaters and committees to help keep everyone organized! 

It can include:

  • A welcome page and league introduction
  • Membership overview and requirements (are over 18, pay for own equipment, work towards minimum requirements, dues, attendance requirement etc)
  • Meetings (If planning to hold regular meetings that skaters/directors are expected to attend.)
  • Board of directors (their role descriptions and responsibilities.)
  • Committees (The different committees and their responsibilities.)
  •  Code of conduct for skaters and coaches (Contracts to be signed)
  • Safety policy (the leagues responsibilities and the skaters responsibilities)


At BRD, we follow a dues free policy, and have no requirements on attendance.

The reasoning behind our decision is that in Beijing it can be difficult enough explaining the sport let alone recruit skaters, and many of our skaters have to make regular business trips, so we are willing to accommodate those skaters. However with the planned creation of our travel-team to take on the likes of Shanghai and Hong Kong, we will expect a certain level of attendance from our travel-team players.

You can find a list of links to policy manual resources at the end of the article!

Venue:

Onto the dreaded question "Where can we skate??"

Many teams struggle with this even in countries such as the UK and the US, where roller derby is an established sport.

When setting up a league overseas you may have to work with some difficult environments,  such as sandstorms, flooding, and maybe even year round snow!

For those of you that live in a trickier climate, you may have to get a bit inventive,
contact absolutely everybody, schools, churches, inside garages, gymnasiums and places that you wouldn’t usually consider skating. Consider asking local expat sports groups where they practice and how they managed it.
But remember, as long as you have some flat smooth ground, you are ready to go. Even if the space is small, you can still practice skating techniques, at least until you find a bigger venue.
We've have heard about a team skating on a garage rooftop!

You may also have cultural difficulties, in some countries there may be clothing requirements, amongst others, that are expected of women, and even an entirely different set of expectations for women participating in a sport. Please make sure that you read up on the cultural norms and expectations, roller derby can be a very supportive sport for women around the globe, it just needs a push to get up and skating. So be respectful and responsible when setting up your league.

A top tip... when trying out venue spaces that you feel might be against you skating in their premises, it may be worth just mentioning you are a local sports group and you want to test out the space, you don’t have to mention that you will be skating. Bring along your skates and demonstrate that they don’t tear up the floors and leave trails of fire behind you. Sometimes you just need to get that skate in the door. Venue owners, who might deny you a venue visit after hearing you’re bringing skates, may change their minds after seeing a demonstration.

Below is a template example of our 'Beijing Roller Derby Needs a Home' letter, written by our venue committee that we are currently sending out to gymnasiums.
The extreme condition we have to deal with is the pollution, so we are desperately looking for inside spaces to skate.  

“Dear (insert business name),

 
As members of the ________ league we're writing you to inquire about potential space you may have for our practices.  We started the league in _______ and have been practicing every ______ at ________.  However, we're looking for an indoor venue to hold practices.

 

We've heard from some other local teams that they've managed to work with schools to use their gymnasiums as practice space and, as most roller derby teams in the US, Europe and Asia also use gymnasiums, which would be our top choice.  Do you have indoor sports space available and are you willing to rent it out on ________? If not on a regular basis, do you have an indoor space that could be used once or twice a month?

 

The _______ League was started by ______and has grown in just _____ months/years to be over ____ people.  We're made up of (adult) men and women from all over the world working/studying in Beijing and have come together over a common love of roller derby. Roller Derby, while still a little known game, is the fastest growing sport in popularity in the world.  


(Specific to our league)
Beijing Roller Derby (BRD) is Beijing’s very own flat track roller derby league, dedicated to bringing the rapidly growing sport of roller derby, to China.
BRD has been gathering interest from the local media and internationally around the world. Our league is skater owned and run, proud to support and encourage women in China to take part in an athletic, fast-paced, hard hitting sport.

(Specific to our league)
We are the first team in Beijing and the second in China. Teams have popped up in Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong and it's only just beginning to gain momentum in Asia.

We don't want to make you read too much before we talk but it's really a fantastic sport and we would love to tell you all about it!  You can reach us via email _________ or phone_________ at any time.  If this is the wrong contact for venue space we would really appreciate you forwarding our email along.   

Warm regards,

(Names)

Venue Committee

(Name of your League)



Kit:

One of the biggest struggles that we have here in China, and other international teams have, is getting kit. Your skates and pads. In China, we have to ship in our gear, and that obviously costs a lot of money.

There are a few different options available, you may want to look into sponsorship (something we will visit in a later article) from a business that is willing to help provide your kit, or at least donate towards the cost or shipping.

Make use of those friend and family visits, ask them to bring kit with them.

Ask for league donations from leagues all around the world who might be upgrading their loan kit, or have got spare sets of knee pads knocking around, and if you're lucky, skates!

Get to know your countries local online marketplaces, similar to the likes of ebay. Here in China we have 'Taobao' which is basically a copy of Ebay, but we have been suprised to find skates for sale on the website, just yet to order from it. You never know what you might find in your country, if you are new to the country ask a local friend to help you, and better yet help with the translation if you haven't learned the local lingo.

When shipping in, please please double check those orders! Measure your feet, knees, elbows and your head, don't second guess your sizes, nobody likes to send back their skates and wait weeks for them to arrive again.
It's also a good idea to order in bulk, and for your newbies to order skate packages, many websites offer discounts for bulk purchases, and skate packages can sometimes be cheaper than putting together all the kit yourself.

It's also worth suggesting to your team, that if they are buying brand new kit, it is better in the long run buying the more expensive safety equipment as the cheaper stuff is more likely to wear down and break quicker. It can be a pain in the butt having to reorder gear when you live abroad because of how long those orders take to arrive, so save yourself the hassle and if you can afford to, invest in well made safety equipment, it will save you money in the long run!

If you also have to ship in mouth guards, it's worth noting that many people buy child sizes. I used to struggle with my mouth guard before somebody recommended that I try a child size, and it was perfect! You can also cut down the back edges of your mouth guard if they are rubbing or causing pain, if there aren't many other choices for sale where you are.

What can you do whilst waiting for that kit to arrive? Off-skates training! There are plenty of websites that offer off-skate derby training, not having your wheels yet is no excuse.
Finally, there is good ol' sock derby, which is exactly what it sounds like. You can run through the rules and strategy at a slower pace, which can actually be quite useful for your newbies. 

About The Author

DOB: 6/2/2013
Leagues: Bio:

Originally skated for the Concrete Cows MKRD in Milton Keynes, UK. Joint founder of Beijing Roller Derby League, and coach for the Rickshaw Rollers! 


DERBY TODAY
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