Roller derby is a contact sport originating from America in the 1930’s, played between 2 teams, each team having 5 members. Both teams go around the track in the same direction, the idea being that each team’s designated “jammer” attempts to get the highest score by lapping the members of the opposite team, while being hindered by that team on their way around. And as the name suggests, they play on roller skates. Deep in the heart of Cairo, Egypt, ‘The CaiRollers’ are Egypt’s first and only known roller derby team…and they consist exclusively of women.
Since the revival of roller derby in the early 2000s, it became an all-woman, female organized sport. It started to branch outside of America in around 2006 to various other countries, including Dubai, Singapore and Europe, where there are now around 1,200 amateur leagues worldwide. The Cairollers were founded in 2012 by two American expats, but the team is now dominated almost entirely by Egyptian females. To see them together, in their customized uniforms, they look like one of the funky street gangs you might find in the classic movie The Warriors (the girls even have their own unique nicknames!). However, this sport is real…contact is often and injury is common. This is not the kind of sport that one imagines young Egyptian girls partaking in, let alone dominating. However, it is obvious once you watch a game, or get to know the team, that The CaiRollers love the sport, and live for it. The CaiRollers are a passionate team making waves both within Egypt, and the roller derby scene, with big plans for the future. They offer many females a great source of fitness, meeting new people and a much needed relief from the day to day stresses of life.
Lina Elgohary, also known as Adrenalina, has been a Cairoller for more than two years, and is currently a blocker on the team. She also manages PR for The CaiRollers, all while trying to fit in a full time day job. We donned our protective helmets, war paint and battle gear to get on the track and talk to her a bit about the team and the sport.
Aside from the obvious benefits of fitness, fun and meeting new people, what else do you gain from roller derby?
For the lack of a better word…self-confidence! When playing roller derby, I feel unique and strong. In roller derby, I found a group of amazing women I otherwise would never have known. I also found an outlet. I don’t express myself and all of that gets all pent up and eventually needs to get out, and so I skate and I get hit, and I get knocked down. But then I get back up again and again. Roller derby became my lifestyle!
What does the team/roller derby mean to you?
My roller derby team is one of the only things in life that gives back as much as I put in. For every minute of my time I dedicate to skate with my league, I will be paid back tenfold with friendship, fitness and fun. And maybe a broken nose or busted knee! Laughing and sweating constantly…bruises…rink rash…and doing it all with a team of hot ladies who maintain sexy while doing a full contact athletic sport.
What do your friends and family think of you being involved in the sport?
Some think I’m a badass girl…and some think I’m a fool!
What are you guys working on right now…events, developing the team, expanding etc.?
We’re working on finding a sponsor, because our biggest problem is funding our gear, events…everything. At the moment, we’re so independent! We wish that we could host any roller derby team to play us one day, or even travel to their home town. We aim, within no more than four years, to have our league name in the roller derby world cup championship. In terms of development, we wish to have one or two international coaches spend a month to give us training to become better players…but again, it’s all down to money! With regard to expanding, we are doing very well right now, thank God. We allow new comers twice a year and we have around 23 dedicated Egyptian skaters, with around 10 foreigners that come and go during the year.
For many, roller derby’s contemporary resurgence has been regarded as an aspect of globalization which demonstrates the speed with which pop culture is now transported by highly mobile expatriates and social media, while also highlighting the changing role of women in many societies. For The CaiRollers, it means so much more on a personal level. It continues to grow, and we hope to see roller derby represented in more professionally organized events and competitions. The whole team at The CaiRollers would like to thank Shaneikiah Bickham and Angie Turk, their two cofounders, for making the team what it is today, their continual success and future prosperity.