Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, C-MAX Roller Derby had to overcome some extraordinary challenges to not only form a competitive league, but to graduate to full WFTDA membership! Through the help of sister leagues from around the world, C-MAX is excited for a year of growth and restructure, helping to put South African roller derby on the international map!
Where are you located?
C-MAX Roller Derby is located in Johannesburg, South Africa.
When was your league formed?
C-Max was formed in July 2010 by our two founders, MissChieff and Ling Vom Bot. We were the first Roller Derby league in both our country and our continent!
When did you join WFTDA?
C-Max has always set its goals towards growth and improvement and so it was only a matter of time before we decided to join WFTDA. We were accepted into the Apprentice Program in October 2014.
When did you graduate from the Apprentice Program?
Being so isolated from the rest of WFTDA leagues definitely made meeting some of the Apprentice Program requirements difficult for us. However, through the dedication and hard work of our league members and volunteers, we were able to pull our resources together to bring the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers (along with a few Texecutioners) from Texas Rollergirls to South Africa in January 2016. These incredible women taught us so much and crushed us quite spectacularly in a public game that enabled us to graduate to full membership in March 2016. We are forever grateful for all their help and guidance! TXRG, we love you!
How does your season run?
Our season runs from mid-January to the end of November with a short break in July, during our winter. In previous years, we have run a Home Season tournament starting around March. However, because this year we are focusing on league growth, national gameplay and Team ZA; we have decided to schedule smaller mixed-team bouts throughout the year and a National Festival in October.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
According to our fantastic Google skills, the closest (full member) WFTDA leagues to us are located in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Barcelona, Spain. But, our sisters at Cape Town Rollergirls, situated at the southern tip of South Africa, are currently working through their Apprentice Program.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
C-Max Roller Derby League currently consists of 3 Home Teams: Slam Damsels, Raging Warmones and Thundering Hellcats. We are also in the process of rebuilding our Charter Team, Joburg All Stars, and have a steadily growing Recreational League in the T-Recs.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you’ve played them?
We have not been in a position to play enough games against other WFTDA leagues to develop any rivalries – 3 games against Houston, Sun State and Alamo in Houston in December 2014 as an Apprentice league; 1 graduation game against the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers in Johannesburg in January 2016. Just being able to play against any of these teams was memorable and an honour for our league.
Do you have any sister/brother/junior leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
We’d like to give a shout out to our sister leagues around the country: P-Town Roller Derby, Cape Town Rollergirls and Durban Derby. Also, to our brother league in Johannesburg, Lightening City Rollers!
What are some of the unique challenges of your home town?
Being the first Roller Derby league on the continent meant that for the first couple of years C-Max spent a lot of time just trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing. Johannesburg doesn’t have a very extensive roller skating culture either, so a lot of us learned how to skate by watching YouTube videos; strapping on cheap second-hand skates and falling over. We have managed to find our way though, with many thanks going to the multitude of visiting skaters from around the world that we have had the pleasure of being coached by!
Importing gear is also tricky for us! With a lack of skate shops that can cater to Roller Derby in Johannesburg, we have to order most of our gear online. This has meant a lot of trial and error in figuring out sizing and fits.
What are your biggest training challenges?
At first, creating a suitable training program from our limited knowledge was very challenging, but thanks to the efforts of our Head Coach, Nic Chalmers aka IroNic, and the invaluable input we’ve received from our international visitors, we are now able to keep developing and improving our skills.
Our biggest challenge currently is our lack of international level gameplay. We are always looking to take on a new challenge but, unfortunately, the challenges we are looking for are far away and costly!
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
C-Max trains twice a week. Wednesday nights are dedicated to A-Level practice sessions and scrimmages. Sundays are divided between our Rec League, our Charter Team and 2 alternating Home Teams. Because of space, time and rent restrictions, our Home Teams rotate practice sessions and practice at alternative venues (parking lots, basements, etc.) every second week.
Tell us about your training facilities:
Our training venue is a sports hall in the south of Johannesburg. It functions as our training and bout venue because of its arena style set-up. There is only space for one track which can make scheduling difficult but the on-site bar and restaurant make for killer after-parties.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
C-Max is very proud of our veteran players like Slam-U-Well Jackson, Betty Bonecrusher and Bug Off whose strength, agility and tenacity while jamming have made them difficult to hold back. Blockers like Pit Bullet, Foot-Sek, Sookie Smackhouse, Empress Pain-guin and Iron Tyrant have earned fierce reputations on track for their immovability and hard hits.
We are even prouder of the dedication of our newer players like TommyKnocker, the Juker, Kez and Wrecking Belle (to name but a few) who are all proving that they are going to be forces to be reckoned with in the not-too-distant future.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
We have been very fortunate to have had strong leadership from dedicated Chairpersons – first MissChieff who stepped down in 2016 and now Di-Fibrillator, who also has a capable finger on the pulse of organizing the paramedics, NSOs and Referees for our games; our Head Coach, Nic, ably assisted by our Skater Rep, Iron Tyrant, are responsible for the recent improvements in the skating skills of the members; Kez who is a whizz with organizing events; and Derby Mom-ba who runs a tight ship when it comes to the finances.
What are some of your league’s biggest accomplishments?
First Roller Derby league in South Africa/Africa – 2010
First Roller Derby bout in South Africa/Africa – 2012
First South African/African charter team to play internationally – 2014 (Joburg All Stars – Houston Roller Derby tournament)
First co-ed bout in South Africa/Africa – 2015 (Joburg All Stars vs Men’s Team ZA)
First international bout in South Africa/Africa – 2016 (Joburg All Stars vs Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, Texas)
First South African/African WFTDA Member League – 2016
As the first WFTDA league in Africa, what kinds of efforts are you making to help grow roller derby in your city and beyond?
C-Max is committed to the growth of Roller Derby both in our own league, as well as in our country.
At home, we try to offer a supportive and dedicated community to all our skaters, including our Fresh Meat, to encourage a passion for the sport. We also volunteer our time to assist local charities thereby spreading awareness of the values that Roller Derby instils in us.
C-Max also firmly believes in assisting our sister leagues grow throughout the country. We do this be offering Boot Camps, competitive play and advice wherever required.
It’s the start to a new year: what are some of the big goals you have as a league on and off the track?
2017 is going to be a year of growth, restructuring and development for C-Max. We are looking to increase the size and skill of our league and we are focused on ensuring that all our training programs, from Fresh Meat to Advanced levels, are functioning, effective and up to date with international standards.
We are also looking to revamp the structure of our league to make sure that all our members can get involved in the running of our league.
Lastly, a lot of our time this year will be spent on gearing up for the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup, as we also intend sending our Charter Team with Team ZA to Manchester to play some inter-league games after the World Cup.
Do you have any big games and/or other tournaments coming up that you are looking forward to in 2017?
C-Max is excited to host our 2nd annual National Derby Festival this year which aims to bring leagues from across the country together to play against each other.
Do you have any video footage from bouts or other events that you would like to share? Please provide a link to the footage and any content for viewers.
You can find some of our footage on our website and YouTube channel:
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
As Roller Derby is relatively new in South Africa, we are still actively looking for sponsors who can help support us with our endeavors.
Do you have a special message for your fans?
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Without the love and support we receive from our fans, C-Max would not be where we are today! To the fans who dress up in team colours and buy us drinks after tough bouts, and even help us set up and clean up, you are all amazing! To our littlest fans who ask for our autographs after the bouts, you are the future stars of Roller Derby and we’re so proud that we could be a part of inspiring the “Derby fever” in you!
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