Team Australia is currently in Toronto, Canada, kicking arse at the Roller Derby World Cup. Every time my husband rings me I excitedly tell him what team those amazing ladies have trounced now - and anyone who knows me, knows that I'm the last person to be giving score updates, for any sport (ok, except derby!). So far they have beaten Germany, Finland, and Scotland, and are seeded 4th. I think they will finish up in the Top 3 for sure.
The team features not one but FOUR skaters from Canberra Roller Derby League (CRDL), which was my home league until I moved over here. Makes me realise what a great group of women I learned to skate under. They are hard-working, dedicated, and most of all FUN to skate with. I have realised that not all leagues are like this.
In WA there are two Leagues based in Perth, and they both struggle for numbers. It makes it hard to field competitive players if you struggle just to put together a home team. Being so far away makes a huge difference too. These girls are taught to skate by non-derby people, particularly men. I have skated with both PRD and WARD, and been in sessions taken by boys that have no idea what they're talking about - a speed skater advising us all to kick up our legs (low block, anyone?), or the artistic skater who stands straight-legged and yells at us all to "Get in derby stance, NOW!". I don't get it. The only boy who ever took a session when I skated with CRDL was Ref Fink, and let's face it he's amazing! He also skates derby (or merby, as it's known!) and knows his shit.
I feel resentful that I have to take orders from people who don't know derby, and feel that surely we're not THAT desperate over here? Maybe these people have something to offer, sure, but for one session max - not continuously. What about skills within the League? Are there any jam skaters or speed skaters or bladers in there? Who knows. All I can say after seeing the standard of PRD, which formed around the same time as CRDL, is that isolation does make a huge difference in skill level.
Also the ethos is different, but that's to be expected. People over here don't want to train more than twice a week - fair enough, I'm pretty sure that there were some girls at CRDL who didn't want to train 3 times a week. But if you want that spot on the team when they roll out onto the track you do whatever it takes to get there. You strive to improve.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not slagging off the WA skaters, I'm just saying that it is different. I'm sure joining any league would have been different. But CRDL fielding 4 skaters in a team of 20, playing at international level, gives you some indication of the skill level I have been used to (please don't mistake me - there's no way I'm saying that I'M at that skill level - ha ha! No way!). I certainly feel very lucky to have learned from these skaters, who can now honestly claim to be some of the best in the world. And I feel a little sad about what I have lost coming over here.
But you know what, today it was 36 degrees and I went to the beach and had a swim in that gorgeous blue-green Indian Ocean, and I remembered why I wanted to move here all those months ago!