FCSP amateur departments: Roller Derby

Posted: August 26, 2015 by FCSP Athens South End Scum in Interviews, Roller Derby
Tags: , , , , ,


Harbor Girls

Artwork: Knock’n Rose

Whooooaaaah!!! Next stop for the FCSP amateur department tour and this is probably quite unlike anything experienced so far. No traditional ball affairs, no compromises, no savoir vivre, just outrageous fun! Please make way (in fact, step the fuck out of it!) and welcome the Masters of Roller Skate Mayhem, the Queens of the Sliding Mosh Age, the female FCSP department from Hell – the Harbor Girls are here!!!

This was expected with relative impatience since our knowledge regarding the world of Roller Derby is probably directly comparable to the knowledge we possess on Quantum Physics – none 🙂 Thankfully, Daniele (responsible for the department communication) was patient enough to answer (with the vital contribution of the rest of the crew) all of our questions, even the dummiest ones and give us a good picture of what the Harbor Girls are all about:

OK, we don’t usually ask this but…HOW exactly is Roller Derby played??? With a first look looks like a tactical rolling brawl

Roller Derby is a contact sport played on rollerskates on a flat or banked track, consisting of 2 teams of 5 players each, every team included a “jammer” who will score for her/his team, the other 4 players in the team are the “blockers” who must facilitate its jammer to score while strategically blocking the members of the opposing team to keep them from scoring.  Between the blockers there’s a “pivot” who guides the pack of her team players and provides information and strategical advice to her/his team. In order to score, the jammer must skate her way through the pack of skaters for a whole lap around the track within its boundaries.

Roller Derby seems to be one of the youngest members of the FCSP family. Would you like to tell us a few things about the history of the department?

Roller Derby in Hamburg started in 2007 as an independent sports club, the “Harbor Girls Hamburg”. While in the beginning it was just a small group of girls enjoying the sport they loved, a growing number of members meant not only more fun, but also a lot more work to do for everybody involved. So we were looking for a big club to take as in as a department, just to get rid of all the administration effort. St. Pauli was our first choice and luckily they liked the idea as well. Not only do other clubs hold a lot more restrictions for their departments, which made them rather unsuitable for us, it was also important to us that our club would share our understanding of acceptance and team spirit, which St. Pauli definitely does.


Photo: Miroslav Menschenkind/m.ocean pictures

After taking a look at the website seems like the Harbor Girls are quite organized in terms of finance, having even a sponsor plan in place. What’s the financial status of the department, are you ladies OK with the money coming from subscriptions and sponsorships or you need to put the hand in pocket from time to time?

We are actually quite lucky with our finances. It’s not like we never have to spent our own money, but we get the majority of our travel expenses paid, and also have money for those of us who can’t afford any of it. But we are still looking for more sponsors (and more visitors at our games of course, but not only for financial reasons), because that would mean more training, more away games, more boot camps, more derby!

Hmmm… Sweet ladies like Jeanne Dark, Lotta Loveless, YouDeath, Sunny Death, Holy Hellraiser with the assistance of referees like Bella Carloffa (!) or Count Trackula (!!!) facing dreadful opponents like the Zombie Girls or the Graveyard Queens – outrageously lovely, sounds like The Misfits doing cage wrestling! (in fact they’ve done it 🙂 ) a) Is there any background behind this obvious integration of Rock’n’roll Horror culture into the sport or is something that just happened along the way? b) Is the sport as hard ( 🙂 ) as it sounds in terms of physical contact?

a) Roller Derby, from what I have learned and experienced as spectator, player and fan, has a long story since its very beginings of empowering (initially only) women, men and transgenders. The beauty of roller derby relies mostly on how inclusive and integrative it has turned to be. Regardless of your physical appearance, sexual orientation, beliefs, body type, etc. Everybody who has the will can join the Roller Derby family, which also empowers the people involved to express themselves the unique way they are. Due to the facts pointed above, it has attracted many people belonging to underground , alternative and rock and roll oriented ones to turned to roller derby and include them in their own lifestyle, linking the sport to the underground culture. There is no other sport so inclusive, where you can basically “come as you are”.

b) yes, Roller Derby is as hard as it looks and sounds and even more! But for that purpose every skater is provided with the appropiated physical training and is required a set of protective gear. A skater must go to a whole preparation training in order to be bout/scrimmage ready in order to play a safe bout and avoid injuries.


Photo: Eberhard Kamm

Sport looks really DIRTY, how much space available for fair play?

Actually, a lot! Especially since roller derby is a sport where serious injuries can happen (and do happen), it is of major importance to have strict rules. For instance, players are not allowed to “back block”, that is, bump into another player’s back. There are specific “target” and “blocking” zones and failure to adhere to the rules sends the player into the penalty box. Therefore, it is crucial to have referees and NSOs (Non-Skating Officials) surveilling the action on the track (there are at least seven referees on skates and even more NSOs observing a match, and our rules have about 70 pages.). Roller Derby is fair play!

Read on the website about regular home game sold outs. Could you describe us in brief a “typical” Harbor Girls matchday in terms of atmosphere and fan support?

Bout days (“bout” is Roller Derby language for game 😉 ) are exciting events! Since we organize everything ourselves (catering, music, etc.), everyone lends a hand. The atmosphere during the bout is just amazing! And that is due to our wonderful fans who show us unconditional love and support. We couldn’t wish for better fans − they even help to clean up the mess afterwards

As far as we know, there’s no competition in Hamburg. Of course the Harbor Girls are FCSP oriented, however is the fan base FCSP oriented as well or there are people who support you as the only Roller Derby Club in the city?

Of course, EVERYONE loves the Harbor Girls! No matter if FCSP fan or not 😉 However, a lot of our fans also support the famous St. Pauli soccer (editor: soccer?!? 🙂 ) club, which makes sense, as they are cool like us.

Oh yes, they do :-)

Oh yes, they do 🙂 (Photo: Stefan Groenveld)

4 ladies travelled with the National team of Germany (looks like we kick ass at a domestic level!) to the USA last year for the World Championship, facing some of the traditional forces of the sport. How was the experience?

I can’t speak on their behalf, but it was an exciting time for all of us! We met every night during the tournament and watched the games together as a team, on a big screen, screaming at the referees and opponents. It was fun, but also completely nerve wrecking! But probably the girls playing had it way worse than us, nerve-wise!

Having already spoke with other FCSP amateur departments, we consider obvious the acceptance of the core FCSP values in order to join. Any other prerequisites except maybe being bold enough ( 🙂 ) to do it?

Roller Derby in general is open to everyone, no matter your skating skills, fitness, physique or age. We only take people in who are at least 18, but we hope we can change that in the future. Everything else will come to you: We teach you how to skate, fall, and eventually play roller derby. It’s for everyone! It is really important to us to encourage everyone who wants to start. Some people tend to learn faster than others, maybe because they already have skated before or are very athletic, but we work as a team and help each other out to get better all the time.

Any future plans (like a men department for example 😀 ) or expectations for the Harbor Girls?

It is absolutely certain that – whatever will happen in the future – the Harbor Girls keep on rollin’. We will grow, support each other and advocate values like tolerance and equal rights.

As stated above, we are planning on having a youth department for people under 18. A men’s department is not in planning, but there already is a northern German men’s team some of our referees are involved in. We have recently been accepted as an apprentice league for the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, and our next goal is to become a full member! Also, this is the first year a German National league is happening and we hope to rank high! Apart from those current goals, we are obviously always working on being the best we can!


H U G E  thanks to Daniele and the rest of the girls who helped not only for taking the time and deal with this but for sympathizing with our shitty level of German and explaining us things that could be easily found inside their web page, which includes not only news, media, schedule information but basically every information that someone could ask for on the subject. It was extremely entertaining just getting to know them, we really looking forward to the real thing, a live experience, if timing allows it, in one of our future trips to the neighborhood 🙂

You’ll never roller skate alone – VORAN Harbor Girls, FORZA FCSP!!!



Web page: http://harborgirls.de

Instagram: http://instagram.com/harborgirls

Twitter: https://twitter.com/harbor_girls

e-mail: rollerderby@fcstpauli.com

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