In the final article in our series covering National and International tournaments which deserve more attention, we’re coming to a continent which receives little attention from the Roller Derby community: Africa.
The South African Roller Derby community has always been, by necessity, a tightly-connected group; the closest Roller Derby to them is at the other end of the continent to them (in Egypt), so the South African leagues have a feel more like those of the early North American and European leagues. That is to say, they’re very much “leagues”, and home-team games within each city’s league are more common than travel team games between the leagues themselves.
(This is not to say that South Africa isn’t engaged in the global community: they of course attended the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, and engage in much of the rest of the community itself.)
That said, there’s still a lot of appetite for a big National Tournament to raise the profile of the sport, so Golden City Rollers (previously C-Max Roller Derby) of Johannesburg started the “National Derby Fest” back in 2016. Back then, almost all the teams present were actually part of the C-Max league, with only Pretoria’s P-Town making it to the contest from outside (with some skaters from Cape Town joining their team for the event).
As a result, the 2016 winners were a C-Max home team: the Thundering Hellcats.
Last year, with Golden City hosting again, the event was run as a triple header round robin between Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, with the hosts’ travel team emerging victorious with a commanding lead over second place Cape Town, with a final score of 219:73!
Now, in the third year of the event, the tournament is hosted by the other large league in South Africa, Cape Town Roller Derby. The format has changed, providing a pair of Open To All mixed “scrimmage” bouts, featuring skaters from all three leagues which attended last year, followed by the Championship event face-off between Cape Town and Golden City!
As far as we know, the provision of OTA games is an innovation for this event; these bouts will provide track time for all the bout-ready skaters across South Africa, which is an important focus for the tournament as a whole.
As part of their community engagement, the one day event will have each bout separated by open skating for the audience (for which kit hire is available).
With interleague bouts between the leagues fairly rare, it’s hard to be definitive about the expected result of the Championship event: however, given Golden City’s history, we’re expecting a continuation of their reign, albeit a closer one than in the past.
However, the real benefit will continue to be the South African Roller Derby community itself, regardless of who picks up the trophy.
The Third National Derby Fest will be held on Nov 17 at Sunningdale Sports Complex, Cape Town. The event is located at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/179294086331874/
As with all National Tournaments, you can see the history of winners at our page here: http://aoanla.pythonanywhere.com/NationalTournaments.html