Cairo is now rolling on four wheels, and no, we don’t mean the fueled kind. Think retro roller-skates and women who aren't afraid to throw an elbow...
The Cairollers are Egypt's first Roller Derby team. Founded by Angie Marie and Shaneikia Bickham, the expat teachers from the American International School have introduced the fun, fast-paced, female-dominated sport to Cairo with years of expertise. Before meeting each other in Cairo, both of them used to play back in the States, where Roller Derby pulls in a big crowd. Together, they've been recruiting and training everyone and anyone who's interested in getting fit and healthy through an alternative team sport. And trust us, it sure beats going to the gym!
Today, the Cairollers have 19 players, two referees and their very own photographer, known as Albino Yei whose action shots are enough to convince beginners to pick up a pair of skates and head to the training sessions. The women practice twice a week, and their Saturday session, usually held from 4PM-6PM at Tala'a Club (behind CityStars) are open for anyone to join. They'll let you try on the protective gear and skates to get a feel for the sport before sitting down and watching the women work it. "We currently practise in Nasr City or New Cairo since it's near our homes and work, but we're looking for new training grounds. Maybe somewhere in Maadi or Zamalek; somewhere central enough for everyone," says Sarah Amr Halim, a member of the Cairollers who also handles their public relations.
We couldn't help but wonder how average Egyptians react when they see these women, rolling around at high-speeds and knocking each other down. Yes, Whip It comes on MBC 2 an awful lot, but it's still a novel sight. “Well, women skating round and round, in full protective gear is not something you see every day in Cairo," admits Halim. "We get the usual stares and occasional cat-call but usually, people are just so intrigued by what we're doing, that they'll eventually just sit down and watch."
The Cairollers haven't played anyone yet, but they're getting ready for their first 'bout' (match) June where they will be playing against... wait for it... each other! "We're the first team in Egypt and many of our players are complete beginners," explains Halim. Eventually, though, they'd like to invite foreign teams to come and play them here in Egypt, or travel abroad to compete. Word has it the Dubai Roller Girls are a new team starting up and would make for a great regional battle.
But it's not all fun and games. “Our goal is to grow into a league of 60 skaters (maybe more) and help empower Egyptian women through this amazing sport,” says Halim. We think she's on to something. After all, Roller Derby is the signle fastest growing female contact sport in the world and the CairoScene girls could certainly do with taking out their frustrations with something other than chain smoking and binge drinking.
The Cairollers are always looking for new recruits so head to their Facebook page or email Info@Cairollers.com to get in touch. We'll be doing the same, right after we smoke a pack of cigarettes and crack open a bottle of wine, while we get mentally prepared by watching Whip It for the fourth time this fortnight. Drew Barrymore is hilarious.