Cape Town Roller Derby leagues whip it!

16 September 2015 - 02:00 By Charis Le Riche
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We explore Cape Town’s roller derby scene with the Cape Town Roller Girls

Over the past few years, the roller derby craze has hit South Africa. We chatted to Hanlie Coetzee (team member of the Storm Riders and project manager of the Cape Town Rollergirls marketing committee) to find out more about this popular sport.

What is roller derby?

Women’s flat track roller derby is a full contact sport played by women on an oval flat track. The aim of the game is for each team of four blockers to stop the opposing team’s jammer from passing them as they skate around the track. The way to stop a jammer from passing is by physically bumping them either down or out of the track boundaries. The jammer scores a point on every opposing player she passes. A bout could look quite dangerous and chaotic, but there are a lot of rules to make play safer and there is actually a lot of strategy involved.


When and how did the Cape Town Rollergirls come about?

The Cape Town Rollergirls represent a consolidation of several roller derby groups that were active in Cape Town. Initially we operated as Mother City Mayhem, convened in May 2012, the rebranding, rebuilding and coalescing of various interest groups resulted in the dissolving of Mother City Mayhem in late 2012, and the creation of Cape Town Rollergirls later that year.

The league currently has three home teams (Storm Riders, The Rev’ettes and Scrim Reapers) and a referee squad (the Cape Town Court Marshalls).

What are the qualities/skills needed to be a star roller derby player?

You need to be determined to face your fear. I found in the beginning the biggest obstacle that was holding me back was the last second panic to commit to a move. Once you get over that fear and commit, your abilities progress. I still get the fear, but I also know now how it feels to conquer that fear and that is what drives me.

As far as skills go, those you will acquire with the mind-set above. Most of the women in our league had never put on skates before in their lives and within three years have become national level skaters. But time, focus and dedication is key to being an all-star roller derby skater.

Join the team! If you're interested in becoming a skating referee, an NSO (non-skating official) or joining the league email Elizabeth at


This article was originally published in Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Cape Town. Visit, like YourNeighbourhoodZA on Facebook and follow YourHoodZA on Twitter

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