In September 2015, Kallio Rolling Rainbow came to Wales, my homeland, to take on Tiger Bay Brawlers in Cardiff. For the little Welsh girl with a Finnish husband, this was a bout not to be missed. It was an incredibly exciting game which saw Kallio take the win over Tiger Bay 186/132 and a new KRR fan was born. I skipped home happily in my new “Viva La Vantaan Skinit” tee!
It had always been in our plans to move back to Finland and in August 2018 that became a reality. At that time I had been actively training derby for a couple of years and had passed my minimum skills a year before. So when it came to deciding a new team in my new country I had no doubt about where I wanted to be!
In July 2018, I sent an email enquiring as to whether it would be possible for me to join the team when I moved. It took me a long time to build up the courage to click ‘send’ though. Was I brave enough to join a team that I held in such high regard? Would I be good enough to train with such a highly ranked team? However, that anxiety soon faded when I received a reply from the coaches which started, “Great to have you under the rainbow with us. I’m sure you’ll find home here”.
I started training in October 2018 and I was so nervous on that first metro journey. Was I too old, overweight, too inexperienced? Was I fit enough, strong enough, skilled enough? Getting lost on my way to the training venue really didn’t help my nerves either.
My first couple of sessions were really nerve-wracking, but I received so much support, encouragement and friendship from the team, that I settled comfortably into training pretty quickly. And those self-confidence issues I had before just disappeared as Kallio celebrates every individual for exactly who they are, nothing less.
In my first four months I have taken part in my first tournament, attended the annual gala, taken part in HRD bootcamp alongside some of the other team members, a Crime City bootcamp with the whole league and I am getting involved with upcoming tournaments also. I have met some amazing people and I am just really enjoying roller derby in every sense with my new team and it has also really helped me to find my feet in a new country.
I am under no illusions that I have a long way to go to become the player I hope to be, but I’m confident I am in the right place to make those dreams a reality. I’m sure that I will make lifelong friends here and have the chance to develop my skills with this incredible bunch of humans.
My advice to anyone thinking of embarking on the amazing world of roller derby is; DO IT!! And if you’re in or around the Helsinki area then you know where to go. Thank you, KRR! You Rock!
Text by KRR skater Wam Bargera. Photos by Paul Jones Photography Cardiff.