'Rollergeddon' anticipated for Wollongong roller derby

Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby skaters Tatsue, Ikandy, Mc Slammer and (rear) KimOcean are getting ready for the first co-ed bout in the Illawarra on Saturday. Picture: ROARING STORM PHOTOGRAPHY

Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby skaters Tatsue, Ikandy, Mc Slammer and (rear) KimOcean are getting ready for the first co-ed bout in the Illawarra on Saturday. Picture: ROARING STORM PHOTOGRAPHY

Male and female skaters will come together on Saturday night in the first co-ed roller derby bout held in the Illawarra.

Often viewed as a sport for women, leagues for male roller derby, called ‘‘merby’’, have been springing up around the world.

Light City Roller Derby in Adelaide went a step further and became the country’s first co-ed league.

A team from that league will be in town on Saturday to take on a side made up of members of Wollongong’s Steel City Derby Dolls and Sydney City Smash men’s team in what is being tagged as ‘‘Rollergeddon’’.

Courtney Lovebite from Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby said they had trained with men before, but not played against them.

‘‘We’ve been scrimmaging against men for two years, whenever the opportunity presents itself, so it’s something we’re quite familiar with,’’ Lovebite said.

‘‘However playing in a spectator bout is something new and we’re really excited to engage in the spectacle.’’

Lovebite said it could come down to power versus evasiveness.

‘‘The guys do skate differently, they’re generally not as agile but they’re a lot stronger,’’ she said.

‘‘Also a lot of the men who are involved in merby have been referees, so their skating ability is pretty amazing. The people who referee derby are often some of the best skaters involved in the sport.’’

Despite the bash and barge of the sport, Lovebite said roller derby was a sport for the whole family – and there will be  food vendors, market stalls and half-time entertainment on the night.

‘‘The thing that a lot of people don’t realise is that roller derby is a really family-friendly sport to come and watch,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s where we draw most of our crowds from – most of our crowds are families.’’

Rollergeddon takes place at 4.30pm on Saturday at the University of Wollongong Sports Hub. Before the co-ed match, Northern Beaches will take on Newcastle B. Entry is by gold coin donation.

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