Sugar and spice and all thing nice these girls are not. “We go out, we play our game and we dominate,” says Nottingham Hellfire Harlots team member Louisa Ellins.
“We do get some injuries – bruises and the odd broken ankle – but that’s all fairly standard for a contact sport.”
The 28-year-old will be one of 16 girls representing the team, under the captaincy of West Bridgford’s Elke Dickson, at the A Skate Odyssey tournament in Belgium this weekend – quite a coup for a team who have just celebrated their fifth anniversary.
“The GO-GO Gent Roller Girls [Belgium’s first roller girl league and the tournament’s organisers] only ask the top teams to go. We are ranked 15th in Europe, so we were asked to go.”
To put that in perspective that’s 15th out of 365 teams across the continent.
No wonder Louisa, who first got her teeth into #roller derby four years ago, is feeling optimistic.
“It’s about having a bag full of tactics and being able to pull out what is needed at the right time.
“We always go out and say we will play our game. Beforehand it’s all about bringing everyone down to the same place where we are all calm but at the same time psyched up and inspired.”
Originally from the US, roller derby has been taking Britain by storm. According to the UK Roller Derby Association, there are more than 90 clubs in the UK.
In 2009, Nottingham Roller Girls became the city’s first team to play the full-contact female sport, joined by the Hellfire Harlots in 2010.
To keep the competition at bay the Harlots have a personal trainer to help the team to ensure their “stance and stability are spot on”.
“We’ve also been looking at how we mentally prepare for a game as well – so we’ve been reading up about and practising a positive mental attitude as well.
“We just want to be absolutely certain in our ability and our tactics.”
To get to Belgium the girls had just a couple of weeks to raise £2,500 which they did through fundraisers and a sponsored skate in which they travelled the distance from Nottingham to Ghent in three hours.
The competition, now in its third year, takes place over three gruelling days, with the girls playing a 75-minute game every 24-hours.
Game play consists of a series of short match-ups, or jams, in which both teams designate a scoring player (the jammer) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.
The teams attempt to stop the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer.
All this while on skates? It’s no surprise there are bruises.
But any injuries will be worth it if the team come home victorious. It would not only be a win for the Harlots and the county but the UK. (The Berlin Bombshells took home the coveted Jawbreaker award in its inaugural year followed by the Paris Roller Girls in 2014.)
“We will get through,” Louisa breaks off and reconsiders. “Well, I hope we get through to the final.
“Everyone needs to keep their fingers crossed.
“I just can’t wait to get there now.
“We are the girls from Nottingham and everyone better watch out.”
Support the girls y watching a live stream of the tournament at: #wftda.tv/live-events