You may not have heard of Roller Derby (a fast-paced, full-contact sport played by two teams on roller skates) and until two years ago, neither had Lorna Brown, 28, from London. “I read about Roller Derby in a magazine and thought it sounded like a lot of fun,” she says. “At the time, I was working from home and looking for a way to keep fit, have fun and meet new people. I went along to watch first of all, but as soon as I had skates on my feet, I never wanted to take them off again.
“I feel happiest when I have wheels on my feet. I can turn up at training feeling sick or low and the second I tie my laces, it’s like nothing else matters. For me, it’s the ultimate escapism, and the social side is a lot of fun too.”
Brown and her team have been given a big boost by Great Britons, the programme run by British Airways. BA Great Britons helps talented individuals and groups achieve their dreams by providing them with flights to BA destinations all over the world from now onwards until The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. When they heard about the programme, the London Rollergirls were already working hard to raise the funds to fly their All Stars team, of which Brown is captain, to the USA to take up an invitation to train with Gotham Girls Roller Derby, the top American Roller Derby team, in New York.
“This is more than just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and my team mates to play at the very top of our game, it’s also an opportunity for us to promote the sport as a whole,” says Brown.
Brown was one of the Great Britons round five winners and got flights for herself and 13 of her teammates to the Big Apple. She says it was amazing to win: “I couldn’t quite believe it – we were actually going to fulfill what felt like a pipedream. Winning has given us the drive and determination to be the best we can, so we can learn as much as possible when we get there. It also means that instead of spending a huge amount of energy fundraising, we have the freedom to spend that energy training hard.
“We fly out on April 8 and our first game is on April 10 against Philadelphia’s Philphy Britches. That match is going to be a baptism of fire because they are undefeated. We will then be training with the Gotham Girls in New York, before playing two other teams the following weekend.
“We hope to bring what we learn to all the leagues in the UK and Europe. If we can put up a fight, it will hopefully interest the Americans enough that they will visit us for a match.”