Let the weight roll off…with roller derby

So you want to get fit this year and shed those Christmas pounds? If the thought of circuit training, aerobics or lane swimming are making you groan with boredom (not again…), there’s a brand new sport coming to Port Talbot and it’s set to steamroll the competition.

Hazel Lockhart during a roller derby bout. Photo: Matthew French

Hazel Lockhart during a roller derby bout. Photo: Matthew French

Roller Derby is a contact sport for women, played in hour-long bouts made up of 2-minute jams, and all on roller skates. The idea is to act as a team of five to get your jammer past the opposing team’s blockers, while blocking their jammer from passing your team. Points are awarded for each blocker the jammer passes.

Neath resident Hazel Lockhart, 28, has been playing the sport for a year and a half in Swansea, but felt the time had come for Neath and Port Talbot to have its own roller derby team.

“It can be brutal,” laughed Hazel, who is known by the alias Hazel Hemlock on the arena. “It is a contact sport so you have to be prepared with knee pads, elbow pads, a gum shield and a helmet, but it’s great fun to play and it’s a really good way to get fit.”

Hazel is looking for women of any skating ability and fitness level to train for the team.

“It’s going to take us at least six months to get players to the level of basic skills required to play a proper match,” she said, “so we want everyone who’s interested to come along, even if they have never skated before.”

Hazel is known as Hazel Hemlock during roller derby bouts. Photo: Matthew French

Hazel is known as Hazel Hemlock during roller derby bouts. Photo: Matthew French

Hazel promises summer skating sessions along Aberavon and Mumbles seafront to raise the squad’s skating fitness, as well as weekly training sessions in basic skills including stopping, jumping and pushing while on wheels.

“It’s a really fun sport, and I hope lots of people come along on Saturday to give it a try. We’re also looking for people to become scorers, match officials and referees, so if you are interested but don’t want to skate please get in touch.”

The first training session is on Saturday 14 January at 10-12 in Hengwrt Barn, Briton Ferry and then every sat thereafter. You will need to take a pair of quad skates, a skating helmet and elbow and knee pads. You must be 18 years old to take part.

Contact Hazel at nptrollerderby@live.co.uk for more information.

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