Birmingham Blitz Dames
Skate Fast. Hit Hard. Achieve Success.
Birmingham Blitz Dames Flat Track Roller Derby is a fantastic example of a team enjoying success as a result of commitment, hard work and skill. When the British Championship League system was formed three years ago they were placed in the third tier with back to back promotions seeing them compete in the top tier for the first time in 2017.
After a solid campaign they are focused on continuing to develop in 2018. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Dames player and West Indian Captain Violet Attack AKA Simone Radway to find out more.
Attack, as her teammates call her, started off by telling us a little more about the sport saying, “Roller Derby is a team sport with fourteen players on a roster with five of those being on the track at any time. You have what we call the jammer who is the points scorer of the team; the main aim of the game is to get that player past the opposition.
For every player your jammer passes you score a point and as you’re trying to get your jammer through you’re also trying to stop the opposition jammer so it’s basically a game of offense and defence at the same time. This means that whilst it is a full contact sport there is also a lot of tactical play involved as well.”
She went on to explain how she got involved in the sport, “I’ve been involved in the game for eleven years this month; I initially saw an article in a magazine on the Gotham Roller Girls who are the main team in New York and the top side in the world and the sport looked ideal when I read up on it. The following year I was on MySpace (laughs), as you do, and saw a page for the club and added them as a friend. They got in touch straight away asking me to come along and I was the first official recruit!
I’m a very competitive person and so really enjoy that side of it; I always want to push myself and develop as a player and our team has gone from strength to strength in recent times and it has been great to be a part of that.”
“I think the key to our success has been hard work and commitment to training. When everyone comes to practice and you all work together, that is how you can get better and really grow as a team. It is one thing having some good players but unless you are all working together collectively towards the same goal you’re not going to achieve the success you want.
When we were placed in the third tier we felt we were being a little under ranked but decided, ‘okay then, we’ll get on and play, use this to our advantage and target promotion’. We did that and made it to tier two, trained really hard and researched the teams we were playing and were rewarded with an unbeaten season in Tier 2 to win promotion to Tier 1.”
“This year in the top tier has gone really well; we got off to a good start and have enjoyed the challenge of playing at this level. Although we’re really happy with how the campaign as a whole went we lost our last match which was disappointing and we’re eager to push on again next season.
We also entered our first American tournament this year in Rome, New York State playing two American teams and a Canadian side. The matches were very competitive and we beat them all, coming back with a trophy which is always nice. It was a really fantastic experience, very different to competing at home as it adds a different level to it. You’re in a different environment and that definitely brought the team together more and should stand us in good stead for the future.”
“To get to where we are now we’ve all been on the same page and we’ve really knuckled down. In order to continue improving it is going to be even harder work and will require a lot of dedication. I think therefore our biggest challenge is not just to want, but also be able to put in the dedication and time required to get to where we want to go.
We’re totally self-funded at the moment so generating income will also be important. Roller Derby is huge which you see when you go to the major tournaments with people from all around the world but sometimes it can be quite an insular sport because it doesn’t always attract media coverage. When it does it can be a little bit like, ‘look at these cool women on skates!’ within the lifestyle pages and very few sides can make the sports pages which is what we need. We enjoy the game, we’ve worked hard to be a successful side and want to be taken seriously and given the success that we’ve had we feel we deserve that.”
“We want to continue progressing and to play at the highest level that we can and so are looking into the possibility of playing more tournaments abroad. We’re a part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) which is the worldwide association of Roller Derby Teams and this year we entered the top 100 in the world.
To do that we will need to raise funds and gain support from our community. It is a great time to be involved with the side as we gain local, national and international recognition. We’re very proud of the success that we’ve achieved here and are focused on continuing to be a successful side.”
“The B Team, known as the Bomb Squad, has been developing well and to continue to grow it is going to be a case of attracting more members and having more people involved with the club. The more people that take part the more we can develop that competitive environment to help us to push on.
We’re eager to have more people involved and I’d encourage anyone who thinks that the sport might be of interest to just come along to games or a training session and see what it’s all about. It is an exciting, competitive sport and is a great way to develop your fitness and if you put the work in you can really make the best of yourself.
When I first started I couldn’t skate at all and now I’m the captain of an International team so as well as being part of a local team you have the possibility of playing internationally with your team and also representing your country. You really can come from wherever and make it to the top of the sport; it is all about putting the work in and if you do we’ll support you all the way.”