Young women dressed in short skirts looking like rock chicks and vintage pin ups may be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Roller Derby.
But in fact, it really is something to get serious about being the fastest growing female sport in the UK.
The Halifax Bruising Banditas is one of more than 200 leagues which are going throughout the country.
And despite the sport originating from the US there is now a growing number of 1,200 leagues worldwide.
Emma Greenwood joined the Halifax Bruising Banditas some ten months ago, after being introduced to the sport by a Hollywood movie.
“I pressed the play button and what was to come inspired me to take up something which has changed my life,” she said.
Emma, who lives in Elland, now swears by the sport - saying it has made her more happier, providing her with a network of friends that she’s sure will last a lifetime.
The 32-year-old agrees with the perception of the sport being something that doesn’t particularly spring to mind here in Calderdale.
She said: “There was no way Roller Derby was going to exist in the UK let alone Halifax. As it turned out I was wrong, very wrong.
“My first session was booked and confirmed on email by a very friendly Slameron Diaz,” Emma said. (In Roller Derby you get to pick a Derby name – the scarier, the better!)
“My first session was hard,” explained Emma – who is now known as Furious Foo.
“My buttocks and thighs were burning. I was the worst out of all of the rookies there and was just about to wimp out when a girl skated over to me and helped me up.
“Great fall, now let’s skate some more,” said ‘Fury’.
Emma said: “When I finally got to my feet and took a look around, what I saw blew me away – women of all ages playing Roller Derby looking fit, strong, fearless and happy.
“After the session admittedly I was sore but not put off and with speaking with more women addicted to the sport – although they seemed to look like superheroes on track – off track they were accountants, teachers, students, barmaids, full time mums even.
“I knew I wanted to be like them and I knew at that point I was hooked.”
Training was challenging, Emma said, but the level of coaching was very supportive. And although skating didn’t come easy to her – she soon began to get to grips with the quad skates, falling slowly in love with them.
“All the Banditas were great in picking me up and dusting me off,” said Emma.
“My time came to complete 25 laps of the track in five minutes. Again I was the last of the rookies to get this far but with my team-mates at the side of the track cheering me on I couldn’t let them down.
“It was one of the best feelings of my life and a real milestone in my Derby story. I had passed my minimum skills and given the green light to take part in scrimmage.” (A game in Roller Derby involving team-mates)
“Without doubt Roller Derby is a very physical contact sport,” said Emma. “But there are rules in place to keep players safe.
“Teams have got respect for each other on track and like most other contact sports there is a massive amount of strategy and skill involved which makes the sport more exciting.
Competitions between Roller Derby leagues are classed as ‘bouts’ and attract large crowds with guest announcers talking through all the action. The Halifax Bruising Banditas include activities to get children involved as well as running numerous stalls and competitions.
“It’s coming up to my one year Derby anniversary and I am pleased to have won a position on the Board helping promote the team and Roller Derby,” said Emma. “I have taken part in my first bout, feel fitter than ever – and quite like my bum!
“When rookies are down and aching I skate over, hold out my hand and say ‘Great fall, now let’s go skate some more.’ Never did I think a sport or a team could have such a positive impact on my life – so if you would like to try something a little bit different, why not try Roller Derby?”
The Halifax Bruising Banditas are recruiting now for rookie sessions due to start at Northbridge Leisure Centre from September. If you want to get involved with the team please email email@example.com or visit www.facebook.com/HalifaxBruisingBanditas