Albany Roller Derby League in search of new home as COVID-19 continues to bite grassroots club

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Albany Roller Derby League’s Julie Wrobel, Lelani Wrobel, 11, Tayn Wrobel, 6, Naomi Playne, Nyree Holland, 12, Natalie Jarvis and Xanthe Gardiner, 10.
Camera IconAlbany Roller Derby League’s Julie Wrobel, Lelani Wrobel, 11, Tayn Wrobel, 6, Naomi Playne, Nyree Holland, 12, Natalie Jarvis and Xanthe Gardiner, 10. Credit: Sarah Makse

The Track has been a space for women and young people to smash boundaries and connect since 2018, but after COVID-19 dried up their revenue, the Albany Roller Derby League has been forced to look for a new home.

Despite the loss of the venue, league president Natalie Jarvis said it was not the end.

The 825sqm purpose-built Gledhow venue has played host to many clashes, and has drawn roller derby enthusiasts to Albany.

But the club has not been able to host an event since March last year, and with no sponsorship or revenue from events, the not-for-profit can no longer pay the rent.

The volunteer group is set to vacate the premises this month in search of a smaller space.

The league will send-off The Track at their final all ages roller disco party this Sunday.

“It’s hard because there’s so many people who feel very comfortable, at home and connected when they come to skate,” Ms Jarvis said.

“Either they have never participated in sport or they’ve just not had good experiences playing sport and being physically active.

“What we have always done with roller derby, and especially with our Skate Like a Girl program, is make people feel really comfortable in their bodies and see how strong they can be.

“And no matter their size or their shape, they have strength and they can do cool stuff.

“All of that will continue no matter where we land, no matter which new home we find.”

Ms Jarvis said The Track had been the site of many firsts, as the only purpose-built roller derby venue in Australia.

“Even the bigger leagues in metro areas don’t have what we had. So it was a pretty massive achievement for us all,’ she said.

“It has done lots of great things but it is the people who made that happen and those people still exist.”

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