Funding boost is a perfect match for Glasgow skaters

Glasgow Roller Derby
Glasgow Roller Derby

A PIONEERING Scottish sports club which is blazing a trail for women across the world is celebrating a double boost thanks to a very special match.

Glasgow Roller Derby (GRD) has penned a sponsorship deal with local shop 5th Blocker Skates – which has unlocked a funding boost from sportscotland.

The club – which has around 100 members – has been awarded cash from the sportsmatch scheme which supports grassroots sporting initiatives which encourage participation at community level by matching commercial sponsorship.

It means GRD – which recently flew the flag for Scotland in the USA and Barcelona – will be able to continue its pioneering work to promote the growing sport of roller derby.

Roller derby - a colourful collision of roller skates, racing and rivalries - has its origins in the 1930s, but was revived as a female-led and run sport in Texas in the early 2000s.

Glasgow Roller Derby was the first flat-track roller derby league to be established in Scotland, in April 2007.

Since then GRD has sped from strength to strength - playing internationals, securing a top five spot in Europe and organising its own tournaments.

A spokeswoman for GRD said: “We’re delighted to agree sponsorship with our good friends at 5th Blocker Skates. As a Glasgow-based business it reflects GRD’s own ethos – skater-owned and run, offering experienced support in the local community, while building a growing reputation at home and abroad.

“The support from 5th Blocker has allowed us to successfully apply for funds from sportscotland’s innovative sportsmatch scheme. We’re extremely grateful to everyone at sportscotland for their support – it’s testament to the growing profile of roller derby and the league as a whole.

“We’re keen to work with a range of partners to help encourage more women to join the world’s fastest-growing female sport – right here on their own doorstep.”

Shona Marshall is the owner of 5th Blocker Skates – Scotland’s first roller derby bricks-and-mortar shop, which offers a wide range of equipment, skates and protection.

She said: “We’re extremely proud to become an official sponsor of Glasgow Roller Derby and hope it will help the team to achieve even greater success in the future.

“We’ve been a long-term supporter of GRD and it has been gallus to see the skaters go from strength to strength. Here at 5th Blocker we will do all we can to ensure that continues - providing our homegrown heroes with the best in derby equipment, advice, accessories and clothing.

“There are exciting times ahead for Glasgow Roller Derby and we wish them every success – we will be with them every skate of the way.”

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “We are delighted to have invested in this project with Glasgow Roller Derby as part of the sportsmatch award scheme.

“The funding from sportscotland, along with the contribution from 5th Blocker Skates, will help the club to offer more opportunities for people to become involved in competitive skating through the creation of a third team.

“sportscotland is committed to increasing the number of people involved in sport and physical activity, and supporting a project like this will certainly help to achieve this goal.”

GRD currently has two travel teams, comprising the best and most promising skaters - an A team, the Irn Bruisers, and a B team, the Maiden Grrders. The Bruisers are ranked in the top five in Europe and recently took the ECDX tournament in Philadelphia by storm.

Despite growing in popularity and stature every year, GRD remains skater-run and is fiercely proud of its DIY ethic. Everyone involved is a volunteer.

Roller derby is deceptively simple, but cunningly strategic – there is one scorer (called a jammer) for each team on track. It is their job to juke their way through the four opposition blockers, skate round the track and start to lap the opposing players.

For every player she overtakes, the jammer scores a point. It is a full-contact sport but there are very specific rules. You can’t elbow or hit anyone with a forearm, knee, kick or shove an opponent, or plough full tilt into someone’s back.

Thrills and spills are a given in roller derby and all the skaters are equipped with mouth guard, helmet, elbow guards, wrist pads and knee pads to prevent injury. That doesn’t stop bruises, aching muscles and split lips – but it does prevent more serious injury.

If you want to see GRD in action then you’re in luck, the league’s Home Teams will be in action at the ARC sports centre, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA, on Saturday, November 9.

It’s a double header, with GRD’s Death Stars taking on Tyrannosaurus Wrecks to be crowned 2013 champion. Meanwhile the Bad Omens and Hell’s Belles will fight it out for third place. Doors open at 11.30am, with the first bout at noon.

Get your tickets in advance from for only £5 (£7 on the door). Kids under 14 get in free with a paying adult.

* The new deal means GRD is now sponsored by two brick-and-mortar shops - 5th Blocker Skates and Quad Roller Skate Shop in Berlin.

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