Archive for the 'Sport' Category
Women Jumping For Joy Since 1893

From Northampton to Tenerife may seem a strange connection, but the Northampton in question is the one in Massachussets, USA, and the journey is the growth of womens basketball from its birth in 1893. Arriving in Tenerife, the 2018 Womens Basketball World Cup will showcase the strides the womens game has made, as well as bringing international media interest to Santa Cruz and La Laguna where the elite 16 countries will battle for the trophy between September 22nd and 30th.

To back up the tournament, a free exhibition, 1893 From Northampton To Tenerife, is taking place at the Casa de Capitanes in La Laguna. I popped in to stroll around the display cases of memorabilia from those early days of the sport. James Naismish had only invented the sport two years earlier in Springfield, Massachussets, using peach baskets and a very heavy looking ball, so the ladies were quick to recognise the attractions of the game. A Lithuanian immigrant, Senda Berenson adapted the basic rules, and the first womens game tipped off between two teams at Smith College in Northampton.

All this was news to me, and well presented in the roomy hall with plenty of exhibits supplied by the Spanish Basketball Federation. Spain has taken the sport to its hearts, the first womens international in 1963 setting the nation on its way to a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships in Estambul, Turkey, and onto the gold medal at the 2017 European Championships in Prague. There was a nice selection of shirts, medals, programmes and other souvenirs in the exhibition.

La Laguna is a good setting for the display, basketball is big in the town, the mens team Iberostar Tenerife play at the Pabellon Santiago Martin, known locally as the hamburger, and compete in Spain´s top league. The CD Canarias club , founded in 1939, has youth teams at all ages, and of course womens teams, the Iberostar games attract near 4,000 crowds with families making up a big part of the attendance. The exhibition is part social history as well as a celebration of sport for all. It´s open daily until 5 pm, a short hop from the tram terminus and next to the Tourist Information office, entry is free and the information is in Spanish and English, it will run until the end of the World Cup.



Wheels On Fire In European Wheelchair Basketball Championships

Speed, power, and skill are ingredients that always draw me to sport so I didn´t need much persuading to add wheelchair basketball to take my first look at live wheelchair basketball. Adeje pulled off a bit of a coup in attracting the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships and despite a lack of fanfare and publicity, it made a big impression with crunching charges, brave interventions, and action that flowed from end to end of the court.

A near empty Las Torres sports hall greeted me on my visit to the third days action. Cleaners were working their way through the bleacher seats with few obstructions to their brooms. Down at courtside the mens sides of Great Britain and Israel were warming up, and blimey it was warm in the hall as sun beat down through the glass roof panels. A bit of breeze wafted in through the open side doors but not a lot, full marks for the 12 man squads to set a frantic pace as I tried to pick up the finer points of the sport.GB were holders and favourites for the tournament but Israel frustrated them and after the second of the four quarters the red reigning champions were just 34-28 ahead.GB improved steadily for a 86-43 win full of spills, these guys just flip back up in their chairs with no moaning, and lethal finishing.

Holland ladies took on Turkey in the next game and by now the hall was like a green house but it was Turkey who wilted as it became an orange house. There´s a lot for the coaching team and support staff to do from changing the odd wheel, to keeping the water and ice flowing, and serving up liberal supplies of energy drinks. The Dutch were the better organised by far, their coaching was slick and brought quick responses as they pulled away for a 81-17 win. Towards the end, other teams arrived via the lower open entrances, from the other group games at the other hall. The camaraderie between all the countries players was impressive, at least if the hall was lacking people, there were several tv stations relaying coverage across Europe, particulary to Germany and Holland.

Fast forward to the Saturday of the grand finals and the hall was transformed, flags, banners, and painted faces filled the crowd. The colours of Holland and Germany dominated the womens final, and one both teams had looked up to the official flags as theie anthems were played, they were off at a cracking pace. They were well matched and at the half way mark it was 23-23, but Holland grew in confidence and built an 11 point lead going into the final quarter. It was too much for Germany, they edged the quarter 14-15 but lost the match, the tears of the winners and the dignity of the losers drew a standing ovation from the crowd for a great contest.
A change of flags in the bleacher seats gave me time to adjourn to fresh air for a beer and a snack at a pizza outlet up the road. Several of the tournament match officials and judges from a range of European countries were also taking a breather and speaking glowingly of the quality of the event and the venues.

I got back just in time for Great Britain and Turkey´s mens teams to line up for their introductions. Thse two were old rivals from many tournaments, especially GB´s win over Turkey two years ago in Worcester at the Euros. GB didn´t quite show the edge of their Israel victory and found themselves chasing the game at 24-36 behind at the half way stage. Turkey were physically stronger and punished GB for their mistakes,thanks to a late scramble GB were able to claw the deficit back to just a nine point gap. Both sides supporters belted out encouragement as the final quarter brought plenty more twists and turns with both sides missing vital shots. The best it got for the Brits was a three point deficit as they entered the last 60 seconds, Turkey pushed forward and with a mix of good defending and quick breaks made it across the line with a 69-76 victory.

The teams will continue their rivalry in Hamburg 2018 for the World Championships, on this night in Adeje, Turkey were just the better side but the spirit and commitment of the game and the tournament made a big impression on all the crowds that increased as the games progressed. Everyone that took part can be proud of their contribution to another wonderful Tenerife based event.

Arona Fighters Stage A Knock Out Night

The sad sight of David Haye shambling around the ring like a drunk did little for the public image of boxing but my first taste of live action showed me me why it´s called the noble art. Los Cristianos sports hall hosted nine amateur (three rounds) and two professional fights (six rounds) filled with skill, power, determination, and a refreshing respect for the sport and oppoments.


A dedicated team of referees, scorers, time keepers, and medical staff made sure it all clicked along professionally and with safety the over riding concern. That didn´t detract from the intensity of the contests, the gloves were pounding, the muscles pumping, and the tactics subtle and well drilled. First up was Pablo Luis, he survived an early tumble to grind down Joel over the three rounds and take victory. The second match up saw Raul narrowly defeat Adrian of the home club Real Boxing. Each winner got a trophy, and the runner up got a medal, as well as plenty of appreciative applause from the crowd up in the bleecher seats.

The next contest didn´t get beyond the first round, Chiky launched straight into his opponent, Sandro and with a fierce combination of punches put him down. Sandro was clearly dazed but got plenty of time and medical attention to ensure he could collect his medal, a consoling hug from Chiky, and then leave the ring. Head protectors were worn in the next fight as both fighters were under 18, Kilian, a late substitute, saw off Diego Medina after a close contest.

One of the closest and hardest fought bouts brought together home favourite Mihail of Real Boxing, and Alberto Arley. These two really slugged it out and either would have been a worthy winner. After the scoring forms were collected, Mihail just shaded it. The big tv fights aren´t the only ones to enjoy a touch of glamour, the girls from Chocolat paraded the round number cards in the rests and looked every bit as good as their Las Vegas contemporaries.

Back to the action. Saul and Cotu gave their all before Saul got the nod to lift his trophy after a little wobble from Cotu. Everyone loves a showman, Jerday played to the crowd when he entered the ring for the next fight. He showed he was made of stern stuff, surviving a small cut above the eye to clinch the contest. Womens boxing has had to battle hard to get equal billing, every boxing event poster I´ve seen around Tenerife seems to include at least one female bout, Melissa Tudge and Patri showed that they could match the men with their skill and all action style. It was a very even bout with Patri ending up the winner.

The two big professional fights of the night featured fighters in the heavier weight brackets and the contests were very different. First on was Jacobo (Caco) Barreto from Anaza against Siliviu Costea from Romania. It was a short contest as Caco floored Siliviu in the first round with a thunderous punch. The last clash went the six round distance as Adasat (Toro) Rojas took on a late replacement, Ullrich of Cameroon. Ulrich was a bit slower than Adasat but he was tough and solid and took everything that was thrown at him. Adasat wasn´t sure what to make of him at first and had to use all his ring craft to alternate tiring body punches with head shots that he hoped could bring a knockout. At the finish they both knew they had been pushed all the way but Adasat clinched it thanks to his higher work rate and more adventurous approach. Fight nights are pretty frequent in Tenerife and always great value, this latest was 15 euros on the door and here is the gallery of photos.

Two Sports In One Perfect Tenerife Day

I´d like to boast about my sporting prowess, all the medals I have won and records I have broken – only one problem, it´s just not true. I was the wimpy kid at school who always got picked last, even the smokers did better than me at cross country. Despite that, I love watching sport and with Canarian Weekly giving me free reign to cover as many different varieties as possible, I´m like Olly Reed in a brewery.

Tenerife is a magnet for professional sports teams and individuals, especially when the UK winter sinks its teeth into any bare flesh displayed in the name of competition. Arriving at T3 (Tenerife Top Training) in La Caleta to cover Hull Kingston Rovers training camp I was overjoyed to find that Warrington Wolves still had a day left of their 10 day trip and had arranged a training game against Hull KR. I had to brush up on my flimsy rugby league knowledge, the only live UK I had seen was at Wigan Warriors on a very boozy lads holiday up north – when I was still a lad.

Both squads and management were very helpful and the T3 complex is always a joy to visit, the two swimming pools always make me wish I´d brought my budgie smugglers. Warrington finished last years Superleague in second place while Hull KR (white corner on shirt)  were relegated to the Championship. There were a few clues to who was the higher placed club, Warrington (crimson red shirts)  had a bigger staff including two female masseurs who were treating players at two tables at pitchside, part of that could have been down to their stay being twice as long.

The game was played over two 20 minute halfs and was decided on tries, Warrington ran out 3-1 winners, but for both teams it was more about getting ready for the new season. Both squads had some powerful looking players, if they say it´s Tuesday then it´s Tuesday. Warrington coach Tony Smith (above with hat) was referee and laid down the guidelines before they started, basically competitive without getting too carried away -injuries were not part of either coaches plans for the visit. This was very much a working holiday, both coaches talked of the odd team meal out rather than the usual rush to Las Americas that most football teams seem to favour. It was a nice insight for me to see how rugby league teams run and left me with great admiration for both clubs.

The evening brought a change of sport and venue as I headed to CD Marino´s ground in Playa de Las Americas to see my beloved CD Tenerife take on a southern select side made up of players from the Tercera Division and Preferente League. It was a charity fundraiser for the people of Venezuela, there have always been close ties and movement of people between Venezuela and the Canary Islands. I expected a bumper crowd as it has been a few years since CD Tenerife played in the southern tourist zone but it was probably around 500 people. Some of my Armada Sur friends met up at The Whisky Jar but I was down at pitchside getting ready to prowl the touchline with my camera. The team sheet gave a clue as to what was to come, the Tenerife list had 33 players and even then there were others with unlisted numbers.

The big draw was to weigh up Tete´s new loan signing from Las Palmas, Tyronne (no 22) , from the start it was clear he wasn´t rusty from not getting regular games witht he Pios. Playing up front he looked strong and fast and created several chances for his new team mates. Choco Lozano was sharp and cracked in a stoater of a shot into the top corner of the goal after36 minutes. Half time brought wholesale changes, Angel Galvan got a chance in goal but had little to do, Oscar Gonzalez and Giovanni from the B team caught the eye, and Cristo Gonzalez was trusted with the captains arm band. With Tyronne going off after 59 minutes some of the fizz went out of the game but the young guns were keen to stake a claim. Giovanni showed his skills to set up Oscar for a 65th minute second goal, and when Giovanni had a one on one with the select goalie he slipped the ball sweetly past him for a 79th minute, game clinching third goal.

The charity organisers were well supplied with a seemingly endless list of donated raffle prizes, and non perishable food was also donated, near the stadium exit there was a tower of boxes full of long lasting food and supplies to ship out. All in all it was a mighty fine day, there was onmly one way to cap it off, a few Dorada´s at The Victory bar and I was able to wobble up the hill with a satisfied smirk on my face.

Adeje Hails The Slam Dunk Derby

Thundering down the court, plundering the baskets, and closing down shooting angles for their opposition, Iberostar Tenerife (black vests) and Herbalife Gran Canaria (yellow) brought a full bloodied pre season basketball friendly to Adeje. Top class basketball in the Canary Islands? Well of course there is, I last went to see Iberostar Tenerife in January 2013 at their La Laguna stadium, they play in Spain’s elite Liga Endesa along with close rivals Herbalife Gran Canaria. Adeje Ayuntamiento promotes its own youth programme and provided the venue in the form of the Complejo Deportivo Las Torres near the heart of Adeje town.

My knowledge of the finer points of basketball could be written on the back of a postage stamp, and anyway they have refined the rules a bit in recent years to sharpen the pace. This was the opening action for both teams, both attract regular 3,000 plus home crowds and are in the European Champions League this coming season. Five new faces graced each roster, the only two familiar Tenerife names from my last match were Nico Richotti from Italy and Mamdou Niang, a Senegal born youngster previously known as Petit Niang, although at 2.10 metres he was one of the tallest on the court.

The intensity was clear from the start of the first 10 minute quarter (the clock stops with all breaks in play) most of the players may have come from outside the Canaries but the importance of bragging rights between the two islands had certainly been taken on board by all concerned. Tenerife raced into a 19-15 lead at the first break, Nico Richotti was buzzing and involved in all the best moves. Gran Canaria came back strongly to take the second quarter 13-26 for a 32-41 half time lead. The changeover of players from the benches was at a furious rate, home coach Txus Vidorreta had recently signed a new contract for Tenerife but was finding it hard to stem the turning tide. Lithuanian signing Marius Grigonis was the pick of the home pack with some clinical shooting, Canadian Aaron Doornekamp, another new arrival wasn’t far behind but missed some crucial penalty shots.

Tenerife drifted in the third quarter with Gran Canaria’s 10-17 superiority stretching the overall lead to 42-58. The final quarter saw a minor fight back from Tenerife by 21-19 but it wasn’t enough to claw their way back into the game and it ended up 63-77. For both teams it was more about loosening up for the new season, the five new additions to the home squad will have learnt a lot about the standard of the Spanish league and the style of play their coaches favour. Ticket pricing was spot on at five euros in the stands or 10 euros for a court side seat, it had the desired effect of packing the hall out with 1,500 people. There was a fair sprinkling of Tenerife vests to show that some regulars had traveled down the motorway but the atmosphere was more subdued than in La Laguna where drums and chanting help to fire up the players. If you want to see a league game check out the clubs website, hopefully Adeje will try to stage an annual game in the south, there’s definately a demand.



Worlds Athletes Push The Limits At The Arona Combined Events

They came from as far away as New Zealand, Uzbekistan, and Finland, such is the pulling power of the Arona Combined Events meeting, now in its sixth year and with a growing reputation. Spain provided the majority of the competitors but it was pleasing to see several Canarian flags on running vests. Great Britain had 12 athletes registered and Ireland had their lone entry with Shannon Sheely. It was all set for two days of fiercely competitive decathlon and heptathlon, and they delivered in all departments.

The straining, roars of triumph, and flat out performers who had given their all were contrasted by the encouragement and support given by the athletes not only to their own nationals but also the rivals from the other 12 countries involved. The Rio Olympics were still a distant dream for many, there were more pressing short term targets like the European Championships in Amsterdam at the start of July. I recognized some returning GB faces like Martin Brockman, Jo Rowland, and Jessica Taylor, but a debutant in his first senior competition took my memory back to the 1980’s. Elliot Thompson (below) has followed his dad Daley into the decathlon, and he was making good inroads in the long jump and shot putt on the first day.

Their dedication to the constant training is inspiring, pre meeting research showed me that many of the GB crew compete for universities or regional athletic clubs. Several are signed up to a sports modeling agency, a good practical way to support their hectic schedule of far flung events. Athletics is very popular in Tenerife, the Antonio Dominguez Stadium is home to Arona Athletics Club and they provided the stewards, timers, markers, and support staff for the competition. On the first morning the local youngsters battled through their own competition between the main events. I was drawn to the high jump, it fascinates me to see the different styles of run up and technique they use

A poor effort in school sports days egg and spoon races was about the limit of my athletic skill so I sought some insight from Mike Holmes, an experienced coach who was guiding Jessica Taylor, and Anna Rowe through their Tenerife trials, his third charge Jessica Tappin had to retire early with hamstring problems. “ The girls are chasing their qualifying marks for future events, Jessica is chasing 6,000 points for the Amsterdam Euros.”

Mike is a regular at the Arona Pruebas Combinadas and clearly enjoys coming here. “It’s the best place for us to compete in Europe, the climate is perfect, we hate the rain and don’t want anything above a light wind. It’s relaxed and informal at this event too but always well organized.”

By the Sunday evening session all the events were coming to a head, the 800 metres in the heptathlon was keenly contested and brought a big reward for heptathlon under 18 competitor Niamh Emerson. “I was on course to beat the two year old junior record of 5,725 points thanks to a personal best 6.21 in the long jump and I finished strongly to break through that target. The heat (it was 35 degrees on that final evening) made it tough but I’m very pleased with my performance and can look forward to the Euro youth finals in Georgia in July.”

The presentations again underlined the international flavour of the competition. In the ladies heptathlon the under 20’s finished with GB’s Michelle Hughes bronze and Anna Rowe silver, and Paola Serabia of Spain taking gold. The heptathlon under 18’s went Shannon Sheehy (Ireland) bronze, Marisa Vaz (Portugal) silver, and Niamh Emerson (GB) on gold. The senior top trio was Anaella Nyabeu (France) bronze, Lecabella Quaresma (Portugal) silver, and (below) Uhunoma Osazuwa (Nigeria) gold.

In the mens decathlon sections the under 18’s went to Jorge Davila (Spain) bronze, Manuel Dias (Portugal) silver, and Raul Schlecht (Spain) gold. Under 20’s line up was Dario Costas (Spain) bronze, Alessandro Van de Sande (Belgium) silver, and Dimitri Montilla (Belgium) gold. The senior mens awards went to Jeremy Lelievre (France) bronze, Romain Martin (France) silver, and (long jump above) Kristjan Rosenberg (Estonia) gold. All the effort put in on and off the track deserved a bigger crowd for the free event but too little too late on the publicity meant it was mainly families and friends watching.


Polished Cup And Polished Image With Nandu Rugby Youth

Lifting the trophy for the Canarian League with a 36-19 win over Las Palmas was the latest milestone for Nandu Under 18’s but their journey started two seasons ago with grueling two game weekends in the Catalan League.

The skill, dedication, and spirit of the squad shone through at T3 in La Caleta but even in their finest hour they showed enormous respect to their beaten opponents, forming a guard of honour and clapping them off the field. It’s not just about winning for Nandu, they like to uphold the spirit of sport and set high personal standards. It was a pleasure for me not to endure the theatricals and moaning that blights much of the football I watch – and these youngsters certainly play tough.

My knowledge of Rugby Union is sketchy at best, this was only the second live game I have seen, The strong Welsh accent of coach Jamie Whelan was constantly encouraging his multi national players, one described them as a “Tutti Frutti” team. Las Palmas were a bigger side, they had some very big built players and Nandu included several 14 year old players on their roster. Despite that the home side tore into their opponents and pinned them down for much of the first half while racking up the tries and conversions. Captain Jacob Oakenfold led from the front, the fly half was always on hand to win and convert tries made by Nandu’s fast breaking game. The whole squad looked well drilled at line outs and rucks and everyone played their part in a very entertaining game.

The under 18’s have grown together into a winning unit despite the lack of money at this grass roots level, seeking testing opponents they joined the 10 tem Catalan League last year which meant tight schedules to get two games in on the mainland without cutting into school and college time. The costs for that season were 44,000 euros, only partly offset by sponsorship and advertising the club committee had to work hard to find. This season they had to give up the Catalan League for the more affordable 4 team Canarian League, the sport is building a stronghold in the islands with Las Palmas joined by El Medano, and CR Mahoh of Fuerteventura.

Around 100 spectators shared the feeling of pride when a late Las Palmas rally was cut short to ensure the trophy. Monster Travel, keen supporters of the club, supplied the winners cup and a trophy for the gallant losers. The champagne flowed, and gave the coach and his staff a refreshing splash, progress is always on the players minds, they now have to train hard for new challenges. On 7 and 8 May they travel to near Alicante (Villasoyosa) to play in a tournament featuring the best under 18’s from across Spain. All this takes money, the club are keen to welcome more sponsors and advertisers, volunteers to help on match days and with admin are always welcome. It’s like a big family at Nandu, the players are a real credit to the club and the sense of pride and sportsmanship instilled into players speaks volumes for the values of the club. If you want to get involved call Paul Oakenfold on 664361058, if you want to catch a game you can keep in touch at Nandu on Facebook. Games are free to watch, they have a quality 2 euro match programme,  and they will make yyou feel very welcome.

Green Flag Beats Yellow Alert For Water Ski Racers

How dare the weather try to rob us of the return of waterski racing to Puerto Colon, thankfully the expertise and hunger of some of Europe’s top racers ensured half of the planned Tenerife Open International went ahead. Queues lined the pontoons of Puerto Colon marina as holiday makers waited to board pleasure boats, the sun sparkled off the sea, and the island of La Gomera was crystal clear. Sounds perfect but a yellow weather alert and strong waves rolling onto the beaches of Playa de Las Americas meant that Saturday’s action was postponed but it merely sharpened appetites for Sunday’s racing in improved conditions.

At least the cautious waiting on the opening day gave me a chance to catch up with competitors and families that I met at the World Championships at the same venue two years ago. This was a smaller field but 11 boats were assembled in the pits area with skiers, drivers, and in boat observers from Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Austria. The camaraderie of the enthusiasts overcame the need to ship boats in at great expense, some have a semi permanent home in the large boatyard, well Tenerife is growing as a centre for the sport. Skier Nadia Jay Mersey, driver Barry Clapson, and observer Simon Smith from Essex were pleased to get their hands on Kraken, their loaned boat.

It’s a sport for all ages, 15 year old Sarah Bennett, a GB skier from Norfolk couldn’t believe her luck when a pre planned Tenerife holiday coincided with the tournament. Part of her plan was to take part in Sunday’s twin skiers exhibition races but moving the main competition back a day stopped that. The pits were busy with fine tuning, not all of it high tech, washing up liquid was one of the most sought after commodities – good for easing the ski straps around the legs so I’m told. Safety always comes first for these daring participants so the news of Saturdays call off was accepted as a sensible move. A few of the boats did get to test the waters around a limited version of the long oval race course.

An early Sunday start found the waters in much more agreeable mood and they whizzed through the main competition before the big waves reared up again. Sarah Bennett got a third spot in the Euro Kids B category with Laura Fuentes winning. Euro Kids A went to Jorge Garcia, and Adrian Martin took the Junior crown with the Under 21 race going to Sergio Gutierez. Sabine Ortlieb of Austria took the ladies title before the mens final, trimmed from 45 to 35 minutes plus one lap. Belgium’s Robin Marien added the F2 title to his trophy win in last year’s Tenerife Open. The F3 champion was Marcos Llanos behind Crabzy. The weather may have conspired against them but waterski racing again proved that it can offer another exciting dimension to Tenerife’s sporting calendar. Even as they went through their paces news was breaking that Puerto Colon is in pole position to stage the 2016 European Championships.



Waterski Racing To Make Waves In Puerto Colon

If you like your sport fast, thrilling, and free you should head to Puerto Colon for the Tenerife Open International Waterski Racing Championships on Saturday 31st October and Sunday 1st November. I love embracing different sports and two years ago I was hooked by the World Championships at the same venue, I was on the edge of my seat, well balancing on the rocks in front of the harbour wall.

The marina just below San Eugenio is best known to holiday makers as the starting point for whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving, sailing, and every type of water sport you could imagine. Two years ago that seven day event brought the cream of waterski racing from around the globe and thousands of new converts lapped up the action. Just a month ago the Spanish championships took place up the west coast in Playa San Juan, and previous events have been held in Los Gigantes. This year things are going to get even wetter and wilder as the weekend unfolds.


2.30 to 3 pm Junior Under 21, Euro Kids A & B – 25 mins and one lap

3.40 to 4.15 pm Ladies F1 , F2 ,and Masters – 30 mins and one lap

4.55 to 5.45 pm Men F1, F2, F3 – 45 mins and one lap.


10.30 to 10.50 am Euro Kids, Juniors – 15 mins and one lap

11.00 to 11.55 am Ladies, Masters – 20 mins and one lap

12.40 to 1.05 pm   Men F1, F2, F3 – 25 mins and one lap

The championships will be decided on Saturday but there’s something very special on the Sunday, twin racing with two skiers behind each boat. This is a format usually seen in Australia but rarely in Europe, it’s an exhibition event and very spectacular. Both types of racing need a real team effort with different skills being displayed by the skier, the boat driver, and an all important observer facing out from the back of the boat, reading and relaying what’s going on in their wake to the driver.

This year competitors are converging from around Europe with skiing stars like Nico de Stoop, and Maikel de Block from Belgium, Sabine Ortieb from Austria (Ladies 4th in 2013 Worlds) and many of the top Spanish enthusiasts. There’s British interest with Nadia Jay Mersey holding the rope behind driver Barry Clapson and observer Simon Smith, the Islington crew will be with the boat Novelero. With up to nine boats racing at a time the large oval circuit will be whipped up into a frenzy, and the spectators will feel similar sensations. It’s going to be an enthralling contest of speed, power, and skill, I hope to see loads of you down there at Puerto Colon.

Rolling Out The Thrills With The Roller Derby Girls

Lex Plode, Max Voltage, Lady Macdeath, Jackie The Ripper, and Sherry Bomb were whipping up a storm as they whizzed around the circuit with The Buzzcocks lending an edgy punk soundtrack. This was just the warm up of my first roller derby match and if those names weren’t intimidating enough there was always the seven officials including Bella Karlofa and Belle Anger. I had only recently discovered that this popular ladies sport wasn’t just confined to America and now I was seeing it first hand in Santa Cruz at the Pancho Camurria sports centre.

The visit of Batter C Power from London reeled me in and a few hours before the action I met Hannah Charles, AKA Baby Cheesus, near the London teams hotel by Plaza del Candelaria. The Welsh international explained some of the basics and the UK angle. “London Roller Girls is a big club with around 60 players and we play out of Crystal Palace but for this trip we’ve brought 11 players from the third team. Normally there are 14 on a side with five skating at a time, four blockers and a jammer that does the scoring by overtaking opposition players. “

My nearest points of reference to Roller Derby were following ice hockey, and the 1972 Raquel Welch film Kansas City Bomber but it was amore recent film that drew Hannah to the sport. “I saw Whip It three years ago and had to have a go, I was soon hooked. It’s great for all body types, I’m a jammer and that’s more about being nippy but the sport has a strong physical edge that I like. Broken legs and concussion can happen and there are always routine bruises.” Hannah showed off a shoulder bruise at this point but I was already enchanted long before that.

Tenerife was just one of many stop offs since Hannah took up the skates. “I went to Belgium last year with the Wales team, we finished fifth out of eight countries. London Roller Girls were the first non American entries in the World Club Championships last year in Nashville.”
I had also made contact with Tenerife Roller Derby and arriving at the Pancho Camurria for the warm up I had a chat with captain Mercedes (skating as Mercromina) who brought me up to speed on their history. “Esther Arrocha formed the team four years ago, she had played for Erasmus in Manchester and is now living and playing in London. Spain are playing in the World Championships in Dallas this December and there will be seven players from our club as well as Esther.”

There was a lot of preparation before the game started, the refs were marking out the oval track with tape, the teams were practicing their drills and slipping in their gum shields to go with the knee, elbow, and wrist pads. Mutual respect was high on the list too, the teams each skated a few laps to get the applause of the near 400 crowd and then swapped high fives as they filed past each other. Once the first 30 minute half started the niceties were at a minimum as the jammers (identified by a star on a helmet cover) tried to barge, dodge, and power their way past the blockers. Effectively there were two battles going on as the teams tried to shield their own jammer until they could break through and also keep out the opponents scorer.

The officials made sure safety was preserved with sin bin seats for offenders, and close attention to the furious action but there were medics with a trolley on the sidelines just in case. The Pancho Camurria also hosts boxing but it didn’t come to that and when skaters did crash there was an instant ring of refs around them as they recovered. It was quite technical, alert minds and bodies were definitely needed, my little pea brain was just about getting to grips with the scoring. Breaks in play for pack changes and new laps extend the game time to nearly two hours including a 15 minute halfway break.

Sadly my schedule meant I had to shoot across the city to meet the Armada Sur for the CD Tenerife game so I left at half time. It was long enough to get a taste of the dedication, skill, and passion of these players, there’s no big money for them, just late training around jobs and studying and paying for kit etc. The London ladies had to cover nearly all the cost of their trip over and undergo similar unsocial hours for training. Tenerife loves sport, with regular games the Pancho Camurria could be packed but it’s costly for other teams to come for friendlies. You can’t fault them for organization, they run their own drink and snack bar, produce a programme, and sell replica shirts and merchandise, they were even selling London shirts for their visitors, that’s a classy touch.

It was a close run contest, Batter C Power edged it by 153 points to 149 and the two sides enjoyed an after match party to cement the links between the clubs. Tenerife games are as and when they can arrange friendlies so if you want to catch the action or take up playing join them on Facebook at Tenerife Roller Derby. UK based readers can do the same via