As you may have heard last week, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) has extended full membership status to nine graduating leagues after completion of the WFTDA apprenticeship program! The full list of new members can be found in the press release here.
The leagues announced included members from across the United States, South America and more in line with our reporting: Europe! On the back of four skaters making the Team Scotland squad; Dundee Roller Girls becomes only the third league in Scotland to receive this graduated status! Interestingly enough, Tenerife Roller Derby, the hosts of the December tournament that featured the Dundee side, have also graduated to full WFTDA membership!
There are currently (as of March 2017) 399 WFTDA member leagues and 54 leagues in the WFTDA Apprentice program globally. Leagues joining these ranks enjoy benefits including the ability to compete in sanctioned games, discussions with other member leagues and access to learning resources for skaters and officials. Dundee Roller Girls begin their WFTDA membership a Class C member and we caught up with the leagues co chairs, Laura Liston #07 and Crown Jewels #67, for a chance to learn a bit the history of DRG and what the future holds for this up and coming league.
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Q: Hi guys! So WFTDA full membership, a pretty huge step for a league that was skating in a car park at the back of 2009, eh?
L: It's huge for us. I still can't quite believe we get to consider ourselves in the ranks of the incredible teams in WFTDA. Everyone has worked really hard over the years to keep our wee league together so this is a lovely reward.
CJ: Ha Ha! Yes a massive leap for us. I think it’s just amazing how we’ve managed to progress, I think most leagues probably started off in a similar fashion, a very much DIY existence. It still is (DIY) today but there is so much more awareness around derby that is does become slightly easier to progress.
Q: So with Dundee Roller Girls forming around 2011, you both have been involved for a long time. How have you seen the league grow in these past few years?
L: For me I think the biggest growth we've seen is when we created our B team and home teams. Giving our newer skaters the opportunity to develop and to get game experience has allowed the whole league to grow - from them getting games to our new officials getting game experience at an appropriate level. So proud of them all.
CJ: We’ve seen a lot of league members come and go, but there are still a core few that remain. Year on year we’ve continued to build a group of league members that wants to do their best for DRG, whether that’s officiating or skating. I think the drive in people is what pushes the league forward. We have so many committed members that look for the best guest coaches to come to the league, arrange challenging games for us, run the financial side of things and look to push us on to the next level. This is what has allowed the league to grow to where it is now and will continue to do so in future.
Q: What was the deciding factors for you guys to pursue the WFTDA Apprenticeship program? Was it a hard decision for the league to make since it is quite a lot of work that goes into the full program?
L: It was a lot of work in terms of admin but it made sense as the next step for us. Being so isolated in Scotland, we were finding it hard to find leagues of a similar level who would travel to play us. Joining WFTDA has given us more game opportunities and more varied game offers.
CJ: I don’t think it was a hard decision to make, it’s something we have aspired to for a long time and again allows us to push the league forward. The deciding factor was probably looking to get us more involvement in international events, to face and learn from some of the best leagues in the world.
Q: An interesting point to maybe make here is your discontinued presence in British Championships this year.. Did your decision to pursue WFTDA membership affect your attendance to Brit Champs 2017? A close miss to promotion in 2016, and a great game against Swansea held high promise for your league in the following year?
L: The main factor involved in us leaving British Champs was the organisation as a whole. Having to travel so far to each game meant we needed the organisation to be really clear and far in advance, which it wasn't for us. Our B team was also really disadvantaged by our A team's involvement in Champs as it meant their season was quite limited.
CJ: I think partly it did affect our decision to leave champs. We needed to try to make sure we were focusing our energies in one direction and for us, as a league on a whole, that was WFTDA.
Q: We have already seen your league representing internationally with the aforementioned Tenerife Tournament, are we going to see more of the Dundee crew hitting sights outside of the UK?
L: Well our officials are now travelling all over Europe for games - Spain, Sweden, Finland and Norway recently. The Colliders are also heading to Ireland this year!
CJ: Let’s hope so! My dream is to get to Vienna (my favourite city) after that I may retire! It would be great to get further afield but sometimes finances are a limiting factor in that respect.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring leagues, either the new leagues blossoming in Scotland or others wishing to gain WFTDA status?
L: To go for it! WFTDA membership isn't related to wins, or scores etc. It's for leagues who want a say in the future of roller derby. The support we had to develop through Apprenticeship from Auld Reekie, Newcastle Roller Girls and our rep from Hellfire Harlots was amazing.
CJ: I think mainly consult other leagues for advice. We have always been helped immensely by other leagues in Scotland and across the UK and we are always willing to provide advice to other leagues. Decide on what you want your focus to be and aim for it, find out as much as you can about what you want to achieve and ensure you have committed league members willing to put in the work towards it.