Fast women leave town
THEY'RE part of the world's fastest growing women's sport, boast a membership that's grown five-fold in just two years and their games attract thousands of spectators but their inability to find a permanent home could spell the end of the Byron Bay-based roller derby league team, the Bay Rollers.
In the past two years at least 15 local venues have knocked back requests from the league to use their facilities for training and competition, forcing the 50 team members to travel out of Byron Shire
The women now train twice a week at a skate rink in Tweed Heads, a drive of more than an hour for some members. They had also been using the Lennox Community Centre, but the soft rubberised floor made it unsuitable.
The Rollers are now pinning their hopes on the Byron Sports Complex due to open next month but fear misperceptions about their sport could see them locked out.
President Kelly Sullivan said the concern that kept cropping up was roller skates would damage floors - she says this is completely false.
She said most roller derby teams in Australia trained and competed on sprung wooden floors - including at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra - and left no permanent damage.
The Rollers, like other teams, take extra precautions to minimise damage, including covering their safety gear with padding and using clear stoppers on their skates to stop scuff marks on the floor.
Last week, the Rollers started an online petition to gather support for their campaign and already have close to 200 signatures. To sign it, go to www.gopetition.com and search for Byron Rollers
The Rollers also have letters of support from venues interstate who host roller derby teams.
Ms Sullivan said a home base would bring benefits to the league and the community as a whole.
The sport has a huge spectator following and could bring a welcome economic boost to the local area. Their interstate games have attracted crowds of up to 3000.
Ms Sullivan said the uncertainty made it difficult to expand: "We get people asking when we are going to have another intake but we can't until we secure a place.
"If we don't get it (a place at the sports complex) it's like, what are we doing this for. We might have to disband and join other leagues and that would be a real shame."
Byron Shire Council said sporting groups' access to the new centre would be determined by a centre manager to be appointed by a tender closing on Thursday.