On a Mother-flippin’ boat! – Adventures in Ghent, by Ragna Rock
On August Bank Holiday weekend, Mother Mercy and I embarked on an epic voyage to a far off land in order to learn from the great masters of roller derby. That land was Gent, Belgium, for a WFTDA Officials Clinic, the first of its kind in Europe. Being intrepid explorers, we mastered getting the Eurostar and various trains with little damage to ourselves and others and arrived safely on the Friday night at our boat. Yes, BOAT. We stayed on an amazing moored canal boat, set up as a B&B. Cue lots of on-deck drinking and harassing the neighbours – Essex style.
On the Saturday we rocked up to the main event (kindly, and very amazingly hosted by Gent Go-Go Roller Girls) and were introduced to our WFTDA trainers, the Pantichrist (head of South Central region WFTDA RefCom), Sarah Hipel (WFTDA’s training and officiating expert), Conan the Vegetarian and Judge Knot. We started with a session on the psychology of officiating and how we could use various techniques to enable us to concentrate and reduce anxiety pre and during bout. We then split off from the main group of referees and were ushered into a separate room where Pantichrist could impart his NSO wisdom and secrets. We worked through all the main roles and were given tonnes of tips and tricks to make things easier, while clarifying questions and consolidating our existing knowledge and practises.
That night we blew off some steam with our pals from the Brighton Rockers, involving cherry beer, posh kebabs and writing on random Belgian’s clothes… standard! On getting back to the boat we enjoyed a Belgian art-house film on a big screen from across the river in the way only Essex can: shrieking, cackling and inserting our own subtitles.
The Sunday was another session of NSO study, plus working with the refs on communication between officials, culminating in a scrimmage between Gent and RuhrPott Roller Girls from Essen, Germany. We got the chance to officiate in front of Pantichrist: I can tell you, NSOing in front of the person who helped create the dreaded IBRF is a wee bit scary! The day finished with many hugs from sweaty refs and exchanging of Facebook details. It was fantastic to meet so many amazing people from all over Europe and to have the opportunity to speak to some of the kingpins of roller derby. We’ve learnt so much to share with the league and help us run our bouts safely, fairly, and smoothly. Big love and thanks to Gent for the hosting and to all our officials pals – old and new! SSRG loves you!
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