Published on September 7th, 2011 | by DerbyLife0
Inside World Cup 2011: Team Ireland
DerbyLife caught up with Team Ireland’s Head Coach Violent Bob.
DL:What was it like putting together your country’s first team?
VB: It was an awesome experience. Derby is still quite young in Ireland, and so the ethos around the development of the team has been to try and find the correct balance. Obviously we believe that Team Ireland should represent the Irish leagues as best as possible, while simultaneously affording the opportunity to the wealth of talented Irish skaters based with leagues elsewhere. Putting the team together was, thankfully, quite an organic process, as we felt that from the tryouts the chemistry was good and we have a versatile group of skaters who are gelling together very well so far.
DL: What are you doing to prepare the team for World Cup?
VB: In terms of the sport side of things, we are simply striving to have as many practices as possible so as to get used to skating and working as a unit. The “business” side of things has so far been daunting, but some sponsors are starting to come out of the woodwork and we hope to get something tied up sooner rather than later – any offers welcome!
DL: What kind of challenges are you experiencing? (Fundraising, equipment, practice, etc.)
VB: The challenge so far is that we are based in a country where the sport is still in its very early development stages. The leagues themselves are still struggling to find the sort of financial backing needed to run an individual league, never mind bring a team thousands of miles across the water, and so fundraising is without a doubt our biggest challenge to this point. Thankfully though we are probably in a happier place than most countries in terms of traveling to team practices, which as a coach is something I’m eternally grateful for.
DL: What are the benefits or great experiences you are having from creating a World Cup team?
VB: What will prove to be the greatest benefit to Ireland is that we have the opportunity to really, truly put ourselves on the world stage. With Irish people all over the world, many of whom have been in touch with us with kind words and encouragement, the thing I think I look forward to most is hearing that crowd when our skaters take the track for the first time in Toronto. But I think the team will learn from the best in the world and bring that back to their individual leagues, which I believe will raise the bar across the board, and in turn, make the sport much more visible.
DL: How are locals responding to a first national team?
VB: So far, the response has been pretty great, the derby community in Ireland is small, but the support has been excellent. Parts of our national team practices are open to skaters from the other leagues in Ireland, which is helping to make the whole community feel a part of the campaign.
DL: What would help you most right now?
VB: A major sponsor would be the first thing that springs to mind. Something that would allow the skaters to stop worrying about how to afford to get there, and to simply focus on raising their game and preparing themselves for the challenge. If you’ll excuse the shameless plug, donations can be made via Paypal on our website, and tshirts are for sale, email email@example.com for more info!
DL: How do you expect to perform in the World Cup?
VB: We expect to compete. We are not there to make up numbers, and you can mark my words on that. Team Ireland is going to be the hardest working team at the World Cup.
DL: What are your hopes for your team?
VB: My biggest hope is that the entire team doesn’t view the end of World Cup as the end, but as the beginning of something bigger, something more global. I would like to see an Irish team compete in a European championship, maybe even something like a regular competition like the “6 Nations” in rugby. I think this is only the start of something huge.
DL: What does this first World Cup mean to you or your team for the future of roller derby in your country?
VB: Like I said, I think this will push the existing leagues to bigger and better things, and raise the bar for every skater in the country. I also hope it will prompt a batch of new leagues, and inspire more people to come down and try out. And most importantly, I hope it pushes us onto the sports pages of the newspapers!
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