SHIRT #022 – CAIROLLERS
CaiRollers was the brainchild of ex-pats, Indie Hannah (former London Rollergirl) and Naughty VennClose (former Big
Easy Rollergirl). One year later after meeting and discovering roller derby past lives on September 13th, 2012, a group of 10 Egyptian and ex-pat founding skaters hauled gear in from their summer travels and launched CaiRollers. The team busted their asses, switching up venues due to various difficulties, practiced in underground parking lots, rooftops, through sand storms and more. Their first public interleague bout, Red. Vs (not against) Black was June 2013. Imagine: An Arabic and English speaking announcer, half time local music performances, about 300 guests confused as hell about what they were watching, some refs on rollerblades, others ‘zoning’ on foot, and a jammer that forgot how to play and decided to skate off in mid-jam. For us, it was important to get out there and show Cairo our sport and give our girls a chance to play rather then wait for everything to be lined up perfectly.
CaiRollers are passionate about two things: making the league sustainable and breaking the “How horrible is it to play roller derby or even live in Egypt myth.” We’re open to ex-pats, but have put a focus on recruiting local women from the beginning. If we are to last, we need to be a local initiative. To do this, we have to constantly overcome the lack of gear and effective shipping in Egypt as well as the fact that a starter kit is about 8x the average Egyptian woman’s salary by running ongoing international gear donation fund. Any time we travel, we get in touch with local leagues to see if there is used gear they want to donate. Also, there are online ways to contribute cash and we’ll buy more skates, duck tape and extra padded knee pads (concrete is a killer on skin and gear)! This goes to locals who pay 20le (3USD a session to rent it).
On Women in Sport: Sport opportunities are limited for women over the age of 18. However, trying to generalize women in Egypt is massive failure to see the rich diversity in a city of 18 million people. CaiRollers represent just as much diversity as every other derby team in the world does. This is the beauty of derby! Cairo will and so far does love roller derby! Of course we get the occasional annoying on-looker because we practice in public spaces twice a week (the city is known for street harassment for a reason-but our
support team are always there asking them if they are interested, and if its creepy shoo-ing them off) but for the most part this city has been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic and actually downright amused! These women have some steam to let loose and are tough (just gotta get past the skating learning curve)! As Naughty VennClose said in a documentary, “I hate it when people say, I can’t believe they let you do that in Egypt. Do what? Defy the laws of gravity and skate around in a circle?” When people say can’t they are really saying shouldn’t. Nobody is here telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing. We’re just doing it.