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Auld Reekie Roller Girls preparing to take their skills stateside

The Twisted Thistles are taking part in a tournament in Philadelphia but need to raise £20,000 to get there.

Auld Reekie roller girls gear up for first intercity clash
Brian Anderson

In a matter of months, 12 women from Edinburgh will be packing their cases and heading stateside.

But they’re not your normal holidaymakers. Instead of cases full of swimwear, suntan lotion and flip-flops, this group of women will be carefully packing their roller skates, shin pads and sports shorts.

The women come together to form the Twisted Thistles – the travelling competitive arm of the Auld Reekie Roller Girls.

In June, they will be taking their roller derby skills to Philadelphia to take part in the East Coast Extravaganza – a three-day tournament with more than 1000 skaters from around the world taking part.

To the untrained eye, roller derby may look frantic and without organisation, however, underneath the speed skating, body bashing and occasional falls, is organised chaos.

Roller derby sees two teams consisting of five skaters skating anti-clockwise with each team having one player being the designated scorer – the jammer – and the other four act as blockers.

The Auld Reekie girls have become one of the dominant teams in the Scottish roller derby circuit and have tested themselves against European opposition.

Now, Lianne Parry, captain of the squad, is looking forward to the team’s first competitive experience in the country of roller derby’s origins.

She said: “We’re really excited we’re going to Philadelphia in June to play in a big tournament called the East Coast Extravaganza.

“It’s an amazing tournament – it’s one of the best tournaments in the roller derby circuits."

The landmark trip for the team will come just one month after the club celebrates another milestone – its fifth birthday.

However, while the team may have been firmly established for a number of years, the trip to America still needs the support of fundraising efforts as the girls have to raise £20,000 to get there, collecting donations on their website to help them achieve their American dream.

“We need quite a bit of funding to get to America,” said Lianne.

“We had a target of £20,000 to raise to get the whole team there and we’re pretty much well on the way to that because we’ve been doing a lot of fundraising.

“But the money that we’re spending on helping the skaters to pay for flights now, we need that money back in the league to help the league continue for the rest of the year.”

And, as well as fundraising, the team have been putting in the hours to make sure they are physically and mentally ready for their stateside skate.

Lianne said: “We work really hard, we train a lot – we train outside of training. Especially for this tournament coming up, we’ve all been doing a good three or four evenings a week off-skates as well as on-skates.

“You need to be able to think quite fast. It’s exhausting for your body but, for your brain, that’s the most taxing.”

As a build-up to their Philadelphia trip, the Twisted Thistles will be taking part in a tournament in London at the end of April where they will be taking on teams from the host city and from Berlin.

But, for the girls, all the focus will be leading to their three-day tournament in Philadelphia, where they hope they can learn skills which will develop the sport back home.

Lianne said: “We’re hoping we’ll get to play some really high-level roller derby and just learn a whole lot to bring back for the team.”

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