photo: Jim Eyre
What is the Louisey Rider Cup?
It’s a tournament in memory of Louise Wright (skate name: Louisey Rider) who was killed on Pennyfoot Street while cycling to work, and has been made possible by donations from Lou’s loved ones and her employer, Paul Smith.
Could you tell us a little about Lou, as a teammate and a friend?
Lou was a humble player who always tried to take advice on board and improve. That’s not to say she was a walkover, if she had an opinion she would make herself heard, and always insisted on having a chat and a laugh with the opposing Jammer before the whistle.
As a friend, she’s irreplaceable. She brought such a vibrance and energy to the team, I never truly understood how she was able to do so much. At her funeral we learned so much more about her and the impact she had on other people. In many ways it still feels quite surreal that somebody could burn so bright in such a short space of time.
How will the tournament work be laid out?
We have five teams of fourteen male and female skaters from across the UK. Each team will play four twenty-minute games and will be awarded two points for a win and one point for each time they score 66 points - this is a little nod to Lou’s skater number, #66.
The team with the most points at the end will play the Nottingham Roller Derby All Stars, but we’ve limited the squad to ten so that there will be four places available for MVPs who will be selected from the remaining four teams.
There will be audience participation events throughout the day as well as an after-party in the city centre, so this will be a great introduction into the world of roller derby for those who are new to the sport.
Brake is the charity benefitting from the event...
They’re a road safety charity, brake.org.uk, who we’ve been working with since we lost Lou. Brake collaborate with communities and organisations across the UK to prevent road deaths and injuries. They work tirelessly to make streets and areas safer for everyone as well as supporting people bereaved or seriously injured on our roads.
What do Louise’s family and friends say about the tournament?
The response has been fantastic. Everybody is excited to be able to come together in celebration of Lou’s life and we have lots of people involved behind the scenes helping design memorabilia, organising DJ sets and getting crafty for the after-party. I don’t want to give too much away at this stage - but there’s a definite buzz building.
Lou’s Manchester friends - who don’t play roller derby - were so keen to get organised they nearly ended up buying skater tickets, which would have been an interesting twist on the day!
Will it be an annual event?
Yes! We hoped that it would generate enough to become an annual event as well as raising a bit of money for charity, then the skater tickets sold out in eleven minutes. It’s a platform for members of the skating community and others who knew Lou to come together and remember her, laugh, cry and make fools of themselves. It’s a legacy for Lou, who was passionate about making the sport accessible to everyone. Hopefully the tournament format will provide an exciting and varied event.
Finally, for any newbies to the sport, can you give us a quick guide to what goes on?
Two opposing teams of fourteen go head to head on an oval track over two thirty-minute periods. Each period is made up of two minute ‘jams’ in which each team field a jammer and four blockers. On the whistle the jammers race through the opposing blockers, once they are out they can begin lapping them and score a point on them every time they pass their hips - one point per opposition player. The blockers do all they can to help their jammer through and stop the other team’s jammer while essentially having to stay within 10ft of each other.
The game is full contact so it is normal to see some pretty hard hits, but it is also governed by a strict rule set that keeps things fun but safe so, as with all sports, back blocks are illegal and will see you going to the penalty box and any reckless or dangerous behaviour will probably result in a skater being expelled. Having said this, thirty second penalties are a frequent occurrence and can give the game a nail biting twist.
Lee Westwood Centre, NTU Clifton Campus, Saturday 16 April.
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