South East Wales

Bridgend Bombshells roller derby team seeks new home

Bridgend Bombshells
Image caption Players attempt to lap one another while opponents try to physically obstruct them

A team competing in an unusual American sport fear they may be forced to move out of the area unless a new practice venue can be found.

The Bridgend Bombshells formed in 2009 as roller derby, a contact skating sport, grew in popularity.

They have nowhere permanent to train because their base, Bridgend Recreation Centre, is undergoing changes.

The council is to reveal details of new facilities and improvements at the centre in the new year.

But member Melissa Allen-Bevan said she was worried the sport would die out locally.

Roller derby is a full contact sport which sees contestants attempting to lap one another while opponents try to obstruct them.

Two teams of women shove opposition members out of the way to get their 'jammer', a player with a star on her helmet, through to the front to score points.

The sport was popular in the 1950s, but has seen a resurgence in the US and the UK following the film Whip It, which was directed by Drew Barrymore.

Set in Texas, it is the story of a misfit in a small town who discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.

Miss Allen-Bevan, whose day job is an art teacher, said the 30-strong Bridgend team had been working really hard in the two years since it formed and is still unbeaten.

"Roller derby is a great sport because you take on a different persona when you're on the track, put on your gold outfit and fishnets and forget normal life," she said.

She fears not finding a permanent replacement practice venue soon could have a devastating impact on the team.

Undefeated

"We have asked many places if we can use their facilities to train but we have been unsuccessful in securing anywhere that is big enough and safe enough to train in," said Miss Allen-Bevan.

"We are hoping someone will give us a place to train on Sunday from 30 October. Between now and then we have been allowed to use Ogmore Comprehensive School but on 30 October they need it back."

She said many of the team did not drive and relied on public transport from places such as Maesteg, Ogmore Vale, Nantymoel and Pencoed.

Image caption The unbeaten Bridgend Bombshells have been offered training space in Cardiff and Swansea

Bridgend Bombshells have been offered space to train with Cardiff Roath Raiders and Swansea City Slayers during the week but Miss Allen-Bevan is keen they still have a base in the area.

"We want to keep roller derby in Bridgend, we want to keep the team we have taken so long to build," she said.

"We take pride in our team and are thrilled that we are still undefeated. This is an excellent sport for women of all ages."

The team needs a big hall, about the size of two basketball courts, with a smooth floor that will fit their regulation-sized track.

Bridgend Council runs the Bridgend Rec but is going into partnership with another body and during the change period all sports clubs who use the sports hall have been relocated.

A spokesman said it might be possible that the team could return to the Rec in the future.

He said: "In order to ensure that (the Rec) can continue to offer local people a high-quality service, plans are underway that will allow the council to make significant improvements to the available facilities.

"In the case of the roller derby club, they have been relocated to the large sports hall at Ogmore Comprehensive, and they will continue to be able to use this venue throughout the interim period.

"The council is committed towards creating opportunities for helping people to lead healthier, more active lifestyles, and will continue to offer its support to local sports clubs.

"We hope to make an announcement about what kind of new facilities and improvements people can look forward to at Bridgend Recreation Centre in the new year."

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