Team ZA Roller Derby Trials

Hi Rollin' News people!
We are Team ZA from South Africa. We will be the first EVER African team to compete at this year's Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup. Roller Derby has been going for about four years in South Africa and over that time it has grown (like everywhere else) exponentially. This year, the Leagues in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban have come together to put a national team together. This is the first time in South African derby history that all three leagues have trained and competed together.

Team ZA skater and Joburg All Star Skater, Electri-Kell was kind enough to write about her experiences during this history-making process.

It’s Winter 2014 and Roller derby just got real in South Africa. Our hard work, passion and dedication is gifting us with opportunities beyond our imagination and it all started with the first round of Team ZA tryouts earlier this year.

It always surprises me to think about how quickly the sport has grown in this country, with leagues in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Grahamstown. The layers of candy coated goodness that make a jaw breaking South African derby community, who are finally ready to take on the world. How do I fit in to this community? I’ve been skating with the C-max Roller Derby League in Johannesburg since I started Roller Derby less than 3 years ago, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a member of our first ever Travel Team (“Joburg All-Stars”) and train with my mentors, the amazing ladies & coaches that inspire me and keep my derby spirit alive.

Getting serious about Derby is a fulfilling achievement and representing your country in the Roller Derby World Cup is a dream for a great deal of dedicated skaters. The first round of Team ZA tryouts was testament to that. The crème de la crème of derby fanatics lined up for a grueling 6-hour trial in hopes of competing in this year’s Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup. In Johannesburg, it was a particularly hot day at our training center and there was a resounding buzz about a wonderful bucket of ice that was being handed around the benches in between drills. Oh, that sweet, loving, happy bucket of ice. The pressure was building, emotions were flaring and time was crawling, but that bucket of ice was there for all of us. When lunchtime rolled around, I had a moment to gather my thoughts and prepare myself for the next couple of hours, and I think my lunch box played a great role in getting me through the day. So while I sat alone for a while and refueled, I felt the realness of the situation. I felt that I was part of something bigger than me and I was eager to get through the day unscathed. In our last 30 minutes we did a scrimmage against each other. The ultimate test, how does one cope after hours of exertion when faced with a challenging physical task?  You do your best, and so I did, and when that last whistle blew at the end of the last jam I felt a rush of excitement through my body, enough to make me want to cry, but I kept my cool.

When I found out that I had made it to the second round of tryouts it was amazing. Once again I had been given the opportunity to skate amongst some of the most talented skaters, not only in Johannesburg, but South Africa as a whole. So in June 2014 the Team ZA organizers put together a Bootcamp and fundraising event for Team ZA hosting the amazing coaches and Team ZA selectors from Texas "Me Shove you Long Time" and "Booty Queen". The event was put together beautifully by our very own “Gutter Fly” at the C-max Roller Derby League headquarters in Jhb inviting skaters from all over the country to join. The Bootcamp was the most exciting thing since heat moldable gum guards and bouncy toe stops. With classes, seminars, bouts, parties, stalls and naturally the prospect of being chosen as a Team ZA candidate, the excitement was tangible. Contenders wore red shirts throughout the weekend so that SA’s top coaches along with the talented Texans could keep an eye on us to see if we had what it takes. It was remarkable to finally get a chance to skate with visitors from all over South Africa and the vast number of red shirts really put things into perspective.

On Saturday we were surprised with stylish TeamZA vests sporting our derby numbers on the back for what would be our final test, a mixed scrimmage with the Team ZA tryout squad. We all had our photos taken by Adriaan van Jaarsveld and it was quite a laugh trying to disguise a full days training which had crept into our perfect hair and polished lashes. I was proud to have my parents there that evening to watch the bout, and what a bout it was. The level of talent in this country is outstanding and there is no doubt in my mind that with time we will climb the rankings and show the world what SA is made of. The fact that the final score between the "Black Rhinos" and the "White Rhinos" was only 2 points difference shows the tough level of competition there was.

Following an exciting after party contenders and visitors left to get some rest for what would be the silly portion of the Bootcamp weekend, several exciting scrimmage challenges including teams “Old vs Young”, “Gay vs Straight”, “Tall vs Short” “Co-ed Coast vs Highveld” and more.  Finding out the next week that I made it on to Team ZA and would be traveling to Dallas, Texas in December to take part in the World Cup with the people I admire was inconceivable.

A big thanks to our Coaches, Managers, Sponsors, Leagues, Roller Derby girls, International representatives & supporters for making this all possible.


See you in Texas.


Electri-kel #900W


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