Roller Derby as we know it now has been strongly rooted in the United States since the early 2000s, with many leagues hitting their 10-year mark the last few years. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association has been a means to support and connect leagues, but being based in the U.S. it can only reach so far. WFTDA tournaments have always been held in the North America, eight of the top ten teams are from the U.S., and all of WFTDA leadership is located in the States which often gives the rest of the world a feeling of disconnect.
Roller Derby has spread around the globe now, but at a rate that hasn’t been able to fully support itself. After derby hit Europe in 2006, one of the ways the continent has sought to connect different nations and foster the growth of the sport has been the European Roller Derby Organizational Conference. Bear City will be hosting the 8th annual EROC next month.
Many leagues host Boot Camps to spread skating knowledge and skills, but outside of WFTDA’s Annual Meeting, there are few opportunities for skaters and leagues to meet face to face and discuss everything else that goes into a successful derby league. The original EROC had 30 participants registered and was initially a way for skaters to share experiences, but now hundreds of skaters and officials gather every year to discuss issues that are important to European leagues. Sessions cover things such as training, announcing, beginner programs, officiating and more.
While the same leagues are invited to the Annual WFTDA meeting, it could often include extensive travel during the middle of the season and is focused on member-specific topics. EROC is able to narrow its attention to the needs of European skaters and is at a time and location that is more convenient to them. The WFTDA does represent at EROC however, with Grace Killy and Bloody Mary attending past events, and this year they will have Bones, the Managing Director of Games.
“As a supplement to the WFTDA Annual Meeting, the EROC Conference provides an important platform for the European Contingent.” – EROC informational page.
Each year EROC takes feedback from individuals to plan for the next conference, and this time around there was an obvious need for discussions regarding support for Skating and Non-Skating Officials, competitive resources, as well as diversity and inclusion. With a wide range of countries attending this one event, Europe has the position to lead the global discussion on diversity in Roller Derby.
The European Conference will be a jam-packed four days with many vetted and experienced people leading sessions, such as Rogue Runner, Maurine Filip, Dire Wolff, and Mia Missile. Check out the EROC Facebook page for daily updates detailing the rest of the leaders and the workshops they’re leading. Check out the full list of sessions here.
The 2017 European Roller Derby Organizational Conference will be held at the Intercity Hotel at Berlin Ostbahnhof Thursday, January 26 through Sunday, January 29. There’s still time to register and pay the standard fee of 190 Euro for four days, but the price will go up come January 3. Check out the EROC Facebook event or their website for more information.