2015 marked a big year of accomplishments for the Paris Rollergirls, from celebrating their 5 Year Anniversary to graduating to Class A WFTDA member status. Even after the heart-breaking events of the November terrorist attacks, with the start of 2016, the Paris Rollergirls have set their sights on new and challenging goals, rallying behind a message of passion and peace in the new year. Read on to learn more.
Where are you located?
We are located in Paris, TX…just kidding. We are located in Paris, the capital of France.
How does your season run?
Our season runs from September to June. July and August are traditionally holiday months and all of the gyms are closed. Each of our three travel teams compete on average in 10 games and one tournament per year.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
There are two other leagues in Paris: La Boucherie de Paris Roller Derby (aka “les Quads de Paris”) and Les Lutèce Destroyeuses. They are both WFTDA Apprentice Leagues at the moment, but we hope they will soon be full members. We are close geographically, but also on the track, as this proximity facilitates playing bouts or scrimmages against each other. We are also the sponsor league of both the Parisian WFTDA Apprentice Leagues. We look forward to growing WFTDA at home and all over France.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
We are composed of over 100 members in our league including skaters, officials and volunteers. About 80 of us are skaters that make up three different teams based on skill: The All Stars (A team/WFTDA Charter); Les Quedalles (B team), Les Sans Culottes (C team); and the rookies/Fresh meat. We are especially proud to have one of the largest officials teams in the area that carry out ref and NSO training within the league.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
We do not have home teams, instead the Paris Rollergirls are made up of previously mentioned travel teams – the All Stars and the Quedalles are our international and European level teams, and the Sans Culottes compete at a national level even though they have been known to take on some international teams when possible.
Each team is made up of 14 core and 6 alternate skaters. The alternates are chosen from the best players of the inferior level except for the Sans Culottes (our C team) whose alternates come from our pool of newly recruited and trained skaters who show strong motivation and potential. As our league is constantly growing, and attracting both rookies and more experienced skaters who are seeking more advanced training, we are starting to rethink our structure to allow for more of our skaters who want to play to be able to play.
Our bench staff are usually from within one of the other teams in the league which contributes to a huge league investment and involvement in all of our teams regardless of level. Our All Stars are managed by two refs from our league (one of which is ready to skate!) our B team is managed by two skaters from the All Stars, and our C team is managed by two skaters from the A and B team. We are a very close league.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you’ve played them?
Honestly our biggest rival has to be the the Nothing to Lose from Toulouse Roller Derby. They are one of the teams we enjoy playing the most because their level of game play is so high. Last year we played them in the final game at the Fantastic 8 French All Star Tournament. It was exciting, physical and very closely matched. We beat them by just a few points. We are really looking forward to playing them again this year at the first ever FFRS French Roller Derby Championships.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
We would be remiss not to mention our beloved sponsor league, the London Rollergirls, who supported us through our apprenticeship and have been a role model for WFTDA leagues all over Europe. We certainly hope to follow in their illustrious footsteps. We also have some pretty close and long relationships with Rainy City Roller Girls (Oldham, UK), Dublin Roller Derby and Central City Rollergirls (Birmingham, UK). But this year we definitely have to say the Gent Go-Go Roller Girls are our sisters in the WFTDA. We are encountering the same struggle with rankings and are working on the same goals with the same skill level. We can’t wait to play them in February. It will be an amazing game! In France we have a very strong bond with Nantes Derby Girls and feel very attached to our little sisters in the apprentice program: Les Quads de Paris and Les Lutéces Destroyeuses.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
Space! Space! Paris is notoriously space deficient. What’s worse is that the gyms that we do rent from will kick us out for competitions being held by other “more reputable” sports. We are hoping that recognition from the FFRS (French Federation of Roller Sports) as a high level sport or an elite sport will give us the recognition and therefore space that we need to train and compete. The gym supervisors strike was a big problem last year because several bouts were cancelled (sometimes at the last minute). We hope that our 2015-2016 season will be without incident.
What are your biggest training challenges?
One of our challenges is training everyone according to their level and skills, with everyone on the same training schedule sharing the same training space. Our coaches are volunteer players who are taking time out of their own trainings to do the job. This season we were lucky enough to recruit a coach from outside the league. Shout out Mirage! Our coaches discuss together with our head coach what needs to be improved, and agree on the different lines to follow for the season. Lately, we have been focusing a lot on making our blockers more aggressive. As we already have strong walls, we need to take it to the next level to make it easier for our jammers to get through.
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
As said before, access to training facilities is a big issue in Paris, and our league has changed venues often : some closed, got over booked, or were really unreliable in terms of planning because of the strike as well as the fact that some won’t allow us on the gym floor anymore because they think we are damaging it with our skates. But, for the moment we are pretty set in our training at an outdoor, covered space (if it’s not pouring rain!), an indoor one which can host public bouts, and another brand new indoor space in the north of Paris with… a roller derby track! The first and only traced track in Paris. We finally achieved that with the help of our track team and several dedicated PRG volunteers who got up super early to trace and paint a WFTDA regulation track for all the leagues who practice there. When it comes to bouting we have two indoor spaces we can rent.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
We have 5 separate practices per week. One all league, one off skate, one rookie and C team practice, one A and B team practice, and one more all league practice depending upon availability of the gym. We are very lucky to have a great ref crew, who come to our trainings regularly and help our players to play as clean as possible, also, with their help we are now able to organise a league scrimmage once a month to train everyone (skaters, refs and NSO’s).
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
As with every roller derby league, Paris Rollergirls depends fully on volunteering. We function with 9 committees, each run by one or two committee heads, and the BOD composed of the president, the secretary and the treasurer. Those people are the core of the league, and are probably the most involved as they have to manage the organisation and structure of the league, which is a lot of responsibility and a large investment in time. We also have a few volunteers, who aren’t players or refs, who are just in love with roller derby and help us immensely. We are very lucky to have some dedicated skater volunteers in all our committees. We can’t single anyone out because it is the work of the league as a whole over time that has brought us this far.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
We are very proud of our skaters who were on team France at the last Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup – Hooligan, Rose Hyene, Butch Shan, Sally Broyeur as well as our entire All Stars team for their high level of game play that continues to evolve.
How does your league give back to the community?
Until this year we have always been a part of the Tournois International de Paris, an event supporting the non-discrimination of the LGBT community. We also participate in events hosted by the city of Paris or other sports organizations like the FFRS.
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
The following sponsors have shown faith in us and have supported us in our evolution. Our league wouldn’t be where we are today without them. HAWAIISURF. This is our longtime sponsor. It is a store and website dedicated to roller sports and skiing who have been our partners for several seasons. They are very dear to us and we are grateful for their continued sponsorship this season.
TELEPERFORMANCE is one of our newer sponsors, they are the world leader in multichannel management and outsourced customer service. We are proud to have Teleperformance as a new partner this year.
BLACK MAD CRAWLER et RIVOLUX – BMC and RIVOLUX are the two unofficial headquarters of the Paris Rollergirls! We blow the whistle for the start of the 3rd half time our our home games with them and we make regular visits during the week.
These bars/cafés have been welcoming us for a while and decided to be our official sponsors this year: LOGO QUICK (Chatenay Malabry) We would like to say a big thank you to Laetitia who has been with us and has helped us since last year. Without her our snack bar wouldn’t be the same (we all admit that none of us can make muffins as good.)
FFRS, FF ROLLER DERBY, CDRS75.The different branches of the French Federation of Roller Sports who we are in close contact and collaborate with frequently in order to develop the sport of roller derby in France, notably through the 1st ever French Roller Derby Championships.
In 2015 you celebrated your 5-year “derby-versary.” What were some of your big accomplishments in these first five years and what have you set your sights on for the next?
In the past five years we have gone from a tiny league just starting to get our bearings in the sport to one of the best teams in France playing internationally on a regular basis, winning the SKOD tournament in 2014, the Fantastic 8 tournament in 2015 and competing in the first ever French Roller Derby Championships where we have our sights set on first place. We are looking forward to coming out from under our rankings handicap and are looking for an eventual D2 playoff spot in the not too distant future.
Congrats on becoming a Class A WFTDA league this year! Why did you set your sights on this goal? Who were some of the league members instrumental in stepping up to the challenge?
We wanted to become a class A league for two reasons; to set an example for other European leagues that WFTDA membership is worth it and to have more of a voice within the WFTDA. There is still an attitude that the WFTDA is an American association, but the sport is growing just as fast and garnering just as much membership, league growth and fans outside of the United States. We are just a little behind. Becoming a class A league shows other European leagues that we are WFTDA and we have a say. We are very proud of our WFTDA committee for all the work they do- Dark Pistol and Major Kusanakill. Dark is also the manager of the WFTDA Translation Committee.
Paris has been in the international spotlight since the terrorist attacks in November. How as this impacted your league and roller derby as a whole in France?
None of us will forget what happened that day, it’s burned into our memories in the worst way. The following day was hellish as we were afraid to leave our homes and waited desperately to hear about the status of lost friends. Losing one of our own (Lola Salines) was devastating to the whole community but especially to our sisters at Les Quads de Paris. Since then, Paris derby, and Paris in general, has stuck together like cement rather than glue. We observed minutes of noise during almost all games in France in the following weeks. No matter what, we will not forget and we will keep living and loving and playing our honorable radical sport! #wearePRG #weare109
Do you have a special message for your fans?
Paris brings what??? Passion!
Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you’d like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we’d love to hear from you! Or nominate your favorite league and tell us why they should be featured on wftda.com! Please contact .