Greetings from EROC

The European Roller Derby Organizational Conference (EROC) was hosted by Bear City Roller Derby for the 5th time in February 2014. This time around, EROC was bigger then ever with approximately 200 league representatives participating.  

Whilst taking part is plenty of fun it’s also exhausting as EROC lasts two or four days depending on whether you participate in the workshops. The weekend is packed full of informative sessions followed by official afterparties as well as unofficial get-togethers at the Tiki Bar which is practically an institution for the seasoned EROC-goers. It is also a big responsibility to represent your league and to bring home useful information as each league gets to send only four representatives.

EROC offers tips and updates for older and newer leagues and both skaters and officials can benefit. This year, the sessions contained everything from tournament organization to mental coaching and visual training.  At least I filled a whole notebook with thoughts and ideas, including the very useful note for myself: get some muscles to become a better derby player.

Finnish representation

This year’s EROC had a great turnout from Finland; Helsinki Roller Derby, Kallio Rolling Rainbow, Tampere Roller Derby, Lahti Roller Derby, Dirty River Roller Grrrls, Shitty City Roller Derby and P-Town Brawlers were all there. The Finnish representation was pretty great especially considering that in 2013 only the two leagues from Helsinki went to Berlin. 

National roller derby organizations were also invited to participate in the extravaganza and Roller Derby Finland was there to share the Finnish success story. Finland is in some way unique in Europe as we are the only country that organizes the national championships as a cup that runs throughout the year. This means more opportunities for Finnish leagues to play but in addition everyone taking part can also try their hand at organizing bouts. The Finnish Cup is going to be particularly exciting this year with the addition of four new leagues in the 1st Division.

Hopefully, next year, we’ll get to see even more Finnish leagues taking part because EROC is a great opportunity to forge relationships with other leagues, whether it may be through agreeing your next bout or just by having a beer with a skater that you didn’t know before.

We’re all Europeans

EROC kicked off with discussion sessions which were held separately for veteran, intermediate and rookie leagues. Kallio took part in the intermediate leagues session and at least there it quickly became clear that most European leagues suffer from similar problems as us: there’s never enough training space for on-skates practice and never enough funds to do all the great things we would like to do. Volunteers seem to be another problem as we all just want to skate but unfortunately running a competitive league requires a lot of work.  It’s somehow really comforting to know that we are not alone with these problems and to see how other leagues have tried to solve these issues.  

At the same time, we learned many positive things too. European leagues co-operate a lot with each other even across country borders. And having so many different ways of doing things enriches the European roller derby culture.

WFTDA and Europe

WFTDA relationship with Europe seems to be this year’s hot topic along with junior derby and thus a lot of time was dedicated to discussing WFTDA with both member and non-member leagues. Many Europeans still see WFTDA as an organization representing mostly the North American leagues and at present there’s perhaps has some truth in that: only 10% of the WFTDA leagues are based in Europe. However, our influence in WFTDA has been increasing and will likely continue increasing as more and more European leagues are thinking about becoming members. At least in Finland, HRD is already a member, KRR is currently going through the AP process and there have been rumours that some other Finnish leagues are also considering starting the application process.

Another concern in Europe is the WFTDA rankings system. The feeling is that new members and AP leagues are having some difficulty in finding opponents for their mock sanctioned bouts and also the first sanctioned, but un-ranked, bouts. We are all pleased to hear to WFTDA has heard our cries and it currently considering various options on how to improve the situation.

Until next time

After a month I have finally recovered from the long weekend in Berlin and have had time to introduce all the new ideas to my league. Now I’m already looking forward to next year and next EROC. Can’t wait to see what great things are in store for us then.

// Schlagerlöf