MEET the girls taking rollerskating to a whole new level.

Launched just last year, Newport's all female roller derby team Riot City Ravens is going from strength to strength as players sign up from all over Gwent and Cardiff to join in the contact sport.

And with speed, stamina and tactical play all included, it is clear to see why roller derby is fast proving to be a hit.

Played on roller skates, the sport is played by two teams of five members.

Out of the five team members, one is nominated as “the jammer” for the short round, called jams, which lasts for a maximum of two minutes, with the overall game lasting for two hours.

Coach of the team, which is based at the Bettws Active Living Centre, Alex Miller, 31, from Cardiff, explained that all players roller skate in the same direction around a track, and the jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.

The other members aim to assist their own jammer and hinder the opposition.

The ideal team is to have 14 players and two sub team members, so that members can have a break by rotating with other team members. But you can play with a minimum of eight players.

Ms Miller is one of 19 founding members, who created the team in Newport in July last year.

The club was named in honour of the Chartists who rioted in Newport in 1839, and currently has 27 competitive members and 10 beginners.

In her role as team coach, she encourages the club’s members to progress so they are able to complete a list of key skills- such as stopping, falling correctly, jumping and weaving- before they are able to compete.

She said: “We are open to people who have never skated before. Roller derby is for everyone and people should come and give it a go, as we have great team spirit and always encourage people and it feels good to achieve the skills involved in the sport.”

She explained that the sport is great exercise with your body toning up soon after you start attending sessions.

Ms Miller said: “People pay lots of money to attend gyms but if they gave roller derby a go they would find that without even thinking about it they are toning up and losing weight.

“As it is a competitive sport that mindset sort of kicks in and you want to try your best and win so it doesn’t feel like effort to exercise”

She added that it is also mentally stimulating as there are a lot of rules and strategies involved, and players don’t have to be of a certain build to partake - with players having different strength- some good at blocking while others have speed.

She explained that people who have never skated before usually take between nine months and a year before they can compete. But there have been exceptions, and people who already can skate have been competing after just four months after learning the rules of the game.

One of the youngest competitors is Hayley Lewis, 21, from Blackwood, who attended her first session in Cardiff in April last year and joined the Newport team when it started in July.

She has now completed all of her key skills and is looking forward to competing this year.

She said: “The coach is very encouraging and I progressed much faster than I thought.

“I was quite timid when I joined as I had never skated before but once I attended, I loved it and you get sucked into the competitive atmosphere and you enjoy the adrenaline rush.”

Ms Miller explained that it used to be an amateur sport, but this is the first year that there are leagues, with Riot City Ravens playing in the British Championships with their next match against Bridgend Roller Derby on February 21.

Proving it is not a sport just for the youngsters is the oldest member of the team, Anna Hall, 37.

She is one of the founding members of the Riot City Ravens and, after the birth of her second child, she wanted to get active and have fun doing it.

She said: “When I started roller derby, I hadn't put on a pair of roller skates since my childhood. I was apprehensive at first, but the acceptance was overwhelming.

“It didn't matter about my ability, size, shape or age; I was made to feel welcome and supported at every step of the way.”

She explained that the team train twice and learn something new every time, adding that “the sessions are well coached, varied and exciting”.

She said: “Nearly two years on and having played in a number of games and scrimmages, roller derby has improved my confidence, fitness and has even helped me lose nearly four stone in weight.

“I am proud to be part of the team and have built long term friendships as a result. Roller derby is an exciting, inclusive sport and community and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Mum of two, Laura Roberts, 35, is also keen to promote the sport for mums after skating for almost three years.

She said: “Starting in April 2012, I had a four month break in late 2013 when my second baby was born but got back on the skates three weeks after giving birth.”

She is currently treasurer for the team and explained that roller derby is the first team sport she has ever taken part in.

“I had only ever done solo sports like running, swimming and gymnastics when I was younger,” she said.

“It has given me loads of confidence in my own abilities and strength, kept me fit, given me a new identity and a great group of friends.

“As one of the older members of the team, I don't feel old and I enjoy helping the new members with their skating skills and making friends with everyone.”

She added that the team is inclusive and welcoming.

She said: “I love being part of the team and am very proud of what we have achieved since setting up in the summer of 2014.

“We are doing far better than I could have hoped for and growing in numbers every week.”

The team is currently looking for sponsors so that the team can host their own bout later in the year. They need to raise £500 to pay for hall hire, chairs, laying of the track and medical cover. Sponsorship will be advertised in the programme on posters and shouted out during the event. Those interested can email

Anyone wishing to attend a game or join in an upcoming beginners course can also email