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‘Women on The Waterfront’ weekend for International Women’s Day

2 March 2016 by Sarah

Liverpool Roller Birds' A team, Sisters of Mersey,

Liverpool Roller Birds’ A team, Sisters of Mersey, skate out before a game. Image by Taut Clothing.

Our ‘Women on The Waterfront’ weekend on 5 and 6 of March will showcase local women’s achievements from the past and present, ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March.

From suffragette performances to roller derby demonstrations, the weekend will include many special events. Enjoy talks, family friendly craft sessions and information stands that celebrate the achievements of women.

There’ll also be events throughout March, including a talk about female artists on 8 March and a talk by photographer Lee Karen Stow on 19 March.

Liverpool Roller Birds – empowering women!

At Museum of Liverpool, one of the highlights this weekend is an appearance by the Liverpool Roller Birds, who compete in the city’s first roller derby league. You can meet them on Saturday 5 March between 10am-12 noon.

Here, Cali Floor’ya from the league’s B team, The Yellow Shovemarines, tells us about the many positive effects the sport has on the women who take part:

Roller derby is a sport.  It is a tough, competitive, amazing sport.  Many people forget this, because roller derby is not ONLY a sport.  Roller derby is a vehicle for growth, a social ladder, a social experiment.  It is also entertaining, both to watch and to play.   Roller derby’s explosive reach reflects these facts, as it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, appealing to all genders, both the old and the young, and to those of any fitness level.

Liverpool Roller Birds

Cali Floor’ya from Liverpool Roller Birds. Image by Neil Sproston.

In Liverpool, roller derby has had a slow burning fuse.  Our team’s story is not unlike many leagues, those who have been successful and those that have failed to catch on.   An idea, based on the success of female-led sports communities in America, that women could successfully build an association, a league of sports, from the ground up.  That it could be accessible to women who were unfit, who have never played a sport before, whether individually or on a team. That athleticism and cooperation could be enjoyed by anyone – all history, background, social stereotypes or preconceptions to be left at the door once the skates were tied.

That level of inclusiveness spread beyond the woman-centric to include LGBTQ members, and suddenly people realised that women could play sport, Trans women could play sport, those who reject gender labels can play sport and that they can all do so – together.  If I could pick one label for what roller derby brings us, it is: together.

That is only in addition to the incredible individual benefits of roller derby.  Those stereotypes listed above aren’t just words.  Women are told from a young age what they can and cannot do in terms of sport, as well as many other areas of life.  If we’ve been labelled unfit, or uncoordinated, or lacking in grace – often we take that message with us into adulthood.

The most amazing transformations I’ve witnessed are those who step through our training hall doors, having never played a day of sport in their life.  Or having never stood up on a pair of skates before.  Those individuals come to us with a lack of confidence, mistrusting why they ever took this first step.  Whatever they see in themselves on their first day, the difference between that image they hold and the same image weeks later is remarkable.

Potential and growth aren’t just words when we’re on the track.  They infiltrate us until they are part of who we are becoming, with each minute and hour spent practising.

Sports England’s This Girl Can campaign has highlighted how perceptions of women in sport are changing.  Our participation in the campaign has helped focus in on what it means to be part of the Liverpool Roller Birds. All those labels we’re given – including heavy, thin, student, single mum, housewife, career woman, lesbian, transgender, uncoordinated, un-athletic – we take those labels and layer them on the floor beneath our wheels.  Then we dig in, pressing our will down into the floor until we carve something greater from them all.  Strength.  Determination.  Athleticism.  Agility.   And then we play against other women and other teams who have been through this same process.  And we win.  Or we lose.  Together.”

You can see the Liverpool Roller Birds at the Museum of Liverpool on 5 March from 10am-12pm. Their first home game of the season is on 23 April at Greenbank Sports Academy.

Liverpool Roller Birds in action.

Metal Alchemist from Liverpool Roller Birds, ‘blocking’ her opponent. Image by Joe Ehlen.

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