For many years, sports in Egypt have been limited, with the few exceptions of watching football matches and going to the gym. However, the past year has seen a lot of new initiatives to change this. We have seen it all. Or have we? There is yet another sports team that has arrived in the city; Cairollers.
“We, cofounders Indie Hannah (Angie Turk) and Naughty Venclose (Shaneikiah Bickham), met at a school function in Cairo and discovered that we had both played derby before moving to Egypt.
As a passing joke to polite conversation we mentioned starting a team in Cairo. As we got more settled in our new city, we were ready to take on the challenge of that dream by the end of the school year, in May-June 2012,” Shaneikiah Bickham, one of the founders, said.
Cairollers are dreaming big; as the sole roller derby team in Egypt, they do not want to simply keep practicing but they want to turn it into a legitimate sport. “We want to grow a league of skate teams in Cairo. Logistically, that means 60-70 skaters, venues, positive publicity, and lots of shoving and hitting!” Bickham said.
In addition to the cofounders, the Cairoller team has attracted other enthusiasts. “We were quickly joined by a core team of dedicated women,” Bickham said. The team includes Susan Nour, head of public relations; Katreen Gaddis, treasurer and venue coordinator; Dave Brown, coach; and Mohamed Scairon, manager and referee. “Our family is still growing.”
On their website Cairollers claim that the sport empowers women and we were curious as to how. “Empowerment comes from within. Putting on skates and pads does not magically materialise a quality that was not already there.
However, it can allow a woman to express a very real part of herself that may not have been acceptable in her normal, everyday world. In derby, you can hit others, be heavy-set, wear tall, colorful socks, and push other girls into each other. And it is all very okay, very normal,” Bickham explained.
At this moment they are looking for more participants. “People can join by contacting us about when they would like to come to a practice. Right now we are recruiting men and women. Women will skate in the bout (the roller derby match), but they can only do that if men and women are present as referees, scorekeepers and the like.
Just as a football match is not played with only footballers on the field, so with roller derby there are many, many people involved in playing a game, or even holding a successful scrimmage. We are seeking people seeking excitement. We are recruiting new skaters now for our Freshmeat Training Bootcamp starting 12 April,” Bickham said.
We asked about the gear that is needed to participate in the game, which may be hard to find in Egypt. “There is currently no gear available in Cairo. All skates and pads are imported and carried into the country by gracious, travelling volunteers, usually other members of the team. Some international teams have offered to donate gear to Cairollers, so the sooner we know who is interested, the sooner we can accommodate the demand for the correct equipment,” Bickham explained.
Bickham and the team are also planning for some events in the near future. “We are planning an exhibition bout on 25 May so mark your calendars. Location and time are still being decided, but the date is set and the skaters are prepared. Come, watch and be amazed. Or better yet, come now, learn to referee and be a part of the production,” she said.
Bickham also said plans are in the works to hold a fundraiser for Cairollers in April.