Get your skates on for the roller derby

PUBLISHED: 17:42 05 February 2011

On a roll: Maiden England, aka Stephanie Kemp in roller derby action

On a roll: Maiden England, aka Stephanie Kemp in roller derby action

Archant

THE roller derby craze has hit Welwyn Hatfield with the formation of the Hells Belles Roller Girls who are on the look-out for new recruits, writes Mark Hemmings.

Skate off: Maiden England is tailed by Catface

November saw the launch of Hertfordshire’s first roller derby league and it is already going from strength to strength.

The Hells Belles club, who train at Birchwood Leisure Centre in Hatfield, was formed by Hatfield mum-of-two Stephanie Kemp last year.

The 33-year-old explained how the new side came into being.

“I have always loved roller skating and was looking on the Internet to see if there was somewhere, at my age, that I could skate with others,” she said.

“I joined a team in Bedford called Rebellion in the summer of last year knowing very little about roller derby and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

The sport was originally played in the US in the 1920s and has seen a huge revival in the past decade, arriving here in the UK in 2006.

Interest in the activity has surged since the release of the derby-based film Whip It in 2009 directed by Drew Barrymore.

Roller derby is a predominantly female sport, although men’s leagues are emerging and men can also get involved by becoming referees and officials.

“Roller derby is good stress relief,” said Stephanie, who competes under the alter ego of Maiden England.

“You hit, you get hit, you fall, you get up and you start again!

“It’s challenging physically and mentally but so much fun.”

The camaraderie of the sport is also a real appeal.

“Everyone is welcome and there is a great sense of community,” she said.

“My son had meningitis mid-December and was admitted to GOSH [Great Ormond Street Hospital].

“The derby community were so supportive and even arranged a mini second Christmas for us in January.”

It’s a sport that non-sporty people can try and succeed in and one you can play in Times Territory.

“We are currently recruiting new skaters to train with the Hells Belles Roller Girls and encourage all women over the age of 18 who want to take part in a fun, friendly sport to get in touch,” added Stephanie.

All levels of ability and fitness are welcome to join regardless of shape, size or background.

All that is required is that you are keen to learn.

Full kit is available to hire subject to availability.

Email st3ph@live.co.uk or visit www.hellsbellesrollergirls.co.uk for further information.


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