So, coming straight to the point, how are UKRDA providing support to the British Championships. Obviously, a lot of the leagues involved are UKRDA members, but what is the organisation itself doing?
The bulk of the work is being done by the incredible, tireless efforts of the crew who are responsible for setting up the tournament. These are the same people who have built the concept over the last few years, the people behind Heartlands and the previous tournament series from which it grew. While the previous tournament concepts organised by this group have been private local or regional ventures, these people are primarily UKRDA members and have stated that their goal from the outset was create a national tournament series so it made sense to formally consult the UKRDA membership as the NGB for the sport. When they approached UKRDA it was seen by the board that a proactive group of members had developed a tournament concept and were looking for support from the community to make it happen.
UKRDA’s involvement was discussed at length on the forum and our reps voted overwhelmingly in favour of being involved with this tournament, with a few modifications to the original proposal, and it has grown from there.
The Directors have been involved mostly in an advisory role; having a guiding hand in the appointment process for key tournament staff, seeking guidance from national sporting bodies where appropriate or offering advice on how the logistics and operational delivery could be realised. We have also been negotiating with the Men’s teams from around the UK to bring them under the same organisational umbrella as the Women’s tournament as we see this as a fantastic opportunity to unite the whole UK derby community, regardless of UKRDA membership status. It is only through a united effort that we can truly drive our sport forward and build on the grass roots efforts gone to date
I assume that one of the ways that UKRDA has helped is by providing assistance in ranking the teams involved, for assignment to the initial divisions?
The Q3 ranking publication was used for UKRDA teams in the tournament and the wider rankings have been taken from Flat Track Stats. This made sense as this is where the UKRDA rankings are calculated so any differential between a member and non-member team would be fairly representative. As it worked out all of the top ranked teams eligible to play in the British Champs are from UKRDA Member Leagues so the idea of making the top tiers UKRDA only fit well with the plan to have UKRDA sanctioning the upper levels of game play.
So UKRDA is Sanctioning the top tiers as well as providing assistance?
One area that we are looking to have a strong hand in coordinating is the provision of Officials for the tournament. There is still an expectation that the teams playing at any given event will be supplying their own officials, indeed it would be extremely difficult to run such a series any other way, however the UKRDA Officials Committee are looking to develop a supportive community for all UK derby officials that we hope will grow to become something that not only supports active UK derby officials regardless of league affiliation, but also that will be part of ensuring that all games are adequately staffed and that officials with suitable experience and ability are available where needed.
As this is the first time a UK tournament of this type as taken place, there may be teething problems as we go along. However, we are confident that any potential issues can be resolved through proper skater representation and fair, flexible management. This structure is one that will greatly benefit the UK roller derby community, from the grass roots to the top tiers of the game in our country.
Are you concerned or offering any advice over managing the potentially increased scheduling complexity the Champs may introduce? I understand that leagues are forbidden from holding bouts on the same day as a Champs fixture in their group, which (assuming double headers) removes about 5 or 10 slots from their schedule, depending on if you do Home/Away return matchups (plus additional blocking for the Tier playoffs). For many leagues who bout once a month, that is half of their potential bouts devoted to their Division. I can imagine that UKRDA’s logistical support would be advantageous in managing this organisation?
Finally, what are your hopes for the development of the British Championships on British Derby as a whole?