As we reported earlier, the CaiRollers , Egypt's only Roller Derby league, recently made history by playing in South Africa, in the first ever African continental bout of Roller Derby.
Unfortunately, whilst their tournament was one of the few not to be cancelled last weekend, events caught up with them rapidly, as the evolving pandemic led to many of the team having their flights back to Egypt cancelled. In addition, Egypt itself declared that it would soon be closing its borders, requiring other team members to rebook flights at short notice and considerable expense.
After an extremely stressful few days, we can confirm that all members of the CaiRollers have made it back to Cairo - some at the last moment, and many having to travel complex routes with changes in central Africa. However, all of this additional last-minute travel booking, and cancellation of other things planned in South Africa (with additional fees!), has cost the CaiRollers considerably. As well as the financial costs, they have also lost some of their kit enroute.
We, along with others like Derby Without Borders , have been keeping in contact with the team to see how we can help them.
If you would like to help the CaiRollers, please donate funds to their PayPal account at email@example.com or contact Derby Without Borders who are also we believe helping to organise funds and support with replacement kit.
Thank you for your time.
It's hard not to be aware of the effect that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is causing on all human activity, globally, and Roller Derby is not exempt. COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, is stretching the health services of several nations. In order to control its spread, an increasing number of internal and external travel and gathering restrictions are being applied.
In Italy and China, where all non-essential gatherings are currently banned, Roller Derby has stopped along with everything else. The Chinese leagues have not been able to practice since the lockdown in their country in February (with restrictions now slowly being lifted); in Italy since the increasingly escalating actions in the last week or two.
An increasing number of tournaments are now beginning to cancel. In Italy, the Anguanas' March and April Sanctioned triple-headers have been cancelled; but even in countries with less internal restrictions, there are cancellations. Copenhagen Ladybugs have had to cancel their upcoming Sevens extravaganza due to the Danish advice, for example; and there are a host of cancellations across the continental USA, despite their government's lacklustre response to ongoing events.
We are yet to see changes to the status of the Men's Roller Derby World Cup or Rollercon, both highly-international events this year, but given the breaking news restrictions placed by the US President on travel from Schengen countries in Europe, it seems increasingly likely that there will be some knock-on effect. (They are both scheduled far enough in the future that it is possible that we could have a pandemic peak before they happen; but once an infectious disease goes pandemic, it becomes much harder to eradicate quickly.) [Edited after initial publication to note: MRDWC have announced that they will be following all local and international advice; but this has not yet resulted in an actual change to their schedule.]
The WFTDA has published risk-management guidelines for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections if you do hold public games during this period. They essentially reduce to the usual advice that minimising physical contact, and maintaining proper hygiene standards is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus, along with recommendations to cancel non-essential events and follow your country's own guidelines and restrictions. (As with other examples of force majeure, WFTDA will not penalise members for cancelling Sanctioned events due to public health concerns around COVID-19.)
We're hoping to chat to some of the most affected regions and at least help keep their Roller Derby in the public eye a bit, even if they can't play...
...but if you want to help track all the effects on Roller Derby (or just see the results of this), we're linking to Axis of Stevil's public Google Doc for this purpose. Stevil is part of WFTDA's "COVID19 Taskforce", who are working in managing the response to the pandemic and its medical and political effects relating to the sport and its participants.
Speaking of Roller Derby Firsts, technically this weekend marks the first ever tournament hosted by Newcastle Roller Derby (UK). This is a very technical point, as Newcastle's finest Roller Derby league have hosted EuroClash before - just under their previous name of Newcastle Roller Girls - but it's a good enough excuse for us to write a quick lead in article...
This year's EuroClash is just as international as previous years, but is running as a 1 day event at Newcastle's famous Walker Activity Dome.
With 5 teams attending, and 5 games in total, this is a tournament in the looser sense of "a number of games in one place"; no overall winner will be decided. As with most WFTDA-Recognised tournaments, the point is to make it easier for all the teams to achieve their WFTDA Sanctioned Games quota by having several at once (and also get to do that by playing interesting teams in a nice place).
Last year, we ran a series of "Road To Playoffs" posts, providing an alternative view of the WFTDA Rankings as a way to predict which teams are likely to make Playoffs. We're happy with how this went, so we're going ahead with the same plan this year...
Speedy Convalesce, one of the two primary Derby Scoreboard Developers, and founder of the Star Track "league without skaters" in Germany, has recalculated the ratings for every team in WFTDA - as if their rating was calculated at June 30th 2020 [the ranking which will be used to decide Qualifications and seedings into both WFTDA Playoffs, and the Continental Cups].. (Aficionados of the WFTDA rating will know that it applies a "decay factor" to older games, which is what we're tweaking here.) This helps to give a feel for how important the games each team has played in the season are, so far.
Whilst we can't predict the future, this will give the best guess of what teams need to do to qualify, based on what they've already done. This means that this will be the penultimate edition of the Road to Playoffs series.
As well as attaining a minimum ranking, teams also need to play at least 4 bouts within the eligibility period (December 2019 to June 2029), and we'll be tracking their progress on this measure, too.
There's always exciting Roller Derby firsts, and international match ups every year in the calendar, and we can usually argue about just which event was the highlight of the year.
As we've written about previously, South African roller derby exists in its own geographical bubble, far from other nations; but the CaiRollers have had almost as much trouble finding regular opponents (despite being just across the Mediterranean from Greece, and not that far from Italy and Austria). After making history with the first MENA game (against Abu Dhabi Roller Derby in January 2017), and playing Marseille's Bloody Skulls in mid 2017, the CaiRollers have had no other international opponents.
So, since October 2018, they've been planning something more audacious: raising funds to travel themselves, down to Johannesburg. Readers will remember their Indiegogo fundraiser, which did not reach its target, to achieve this by 2019... but the funds that were raised there have been the basis of further money-raising within Cairo itself. Profits from local events, including a recent home teams game at the start of February, have all been funnelled into the venture, and individual skaters have spent personal funds on making their flight bookings. This will be the CaiRollers' first ever away bout, and it's a huge step to make in addition to the usual issues that come with playing away!
This has always been a collaborative effort between Golden City Rollers and the CaiRollers, but as GCR told us, it's grown since the initial plan of just a single game:
"CaiRollers first contacted us with the idea for this event in October 2018, and we have literally been counting the days since! Last year, GCR and CaiRollers decided to run a tournament instead of just one game and we invited other South African leagues to participate. With travel costs being a challenge, Durban Roller Derby and Cape Town Rollergirls opted to form a mixed team, along with some players from UAE All Stars, where an ex-GCR-skater currently lives. They'll compete together as the Pan-African Rollers. It's been both challenging and exciting pulling together our first international tournament, but we've learned a lot along the way and we're hoping this will be the first of many more to come. Only days to go now...we can't wait to have all the teams here and on the track!"
This also makes this the first year that South Africa will host two tournaments with teams from across their own country: normally this happens just the once, in their end-of-year Derbyfest. As with Derbyfest last year, this will be a three-teams round-robin, followed by a "finals" playoff for the top two teams from that stage.
|Time (SA)||Time (UTC)||Team 1||Team 2|
|1130||0930||Pan-African Rollers||Golden City Rollers|
|1300||1100||CaiRollers||Golden City Rollers|
|1500||1300||Top 1||Top 2|
In addition to the public schedule, there will also be an all-day bootcamp on the Saturday, providing maximum benefit to all attending teams.
We hope to bring you a longer article as a post-mortem on the whole event, in a few weeks' time, but for now: put a pin in this for your diary!
As Roller Derby grows across a country, inevitably people start thinking about having a National Tournament (usually around the time they think about needing a National Governing Body). So, whilst some Nationals - in, say Mexico or Sweden - have been running for a very long time - there's always new National tournaments forming.
On the 1st of February, Denmark held its first National Tournament in 4 years, taking the unusual (worldwide) step of using the Roller Derby Sevens ruleset. This tournament was the result of both conception and huge commitment by one person - Aalborg Roller Derby 's Möxie Crüel, so we caught up with her to discuss the genesis of the tournament, it's aims and plans for the future.