Thursday 16th August saw the debut practice session of Barnsley’s first ever Roller Derby team. Roller Derby is a full body-contact sport on roller skates. It’s origins as an all-girl sport in the US initially attracted people into alternative sub-cultures such as  punks, fans of tattoos etc, but that soon gave way to inspiring UK teams to start up with women from all kinds of backgrounds and careers taking up the sport.

Jo Greasley, 23 from Barnsley is currently on maternity leave after only giving birth to a baby boy just a few weeks ago. She works as a Quality Administrator for a Telesales Company by day and now by night she is heading up the Barnsley Black Heart Rollers.

She explains that she ‘came across roller derby a couple of years ago in Sheffield. I saw a recruitment poster for Sheffield Steel Roller Girls and thought I would give it a go… I loved it but it was too far away to go to all the time, so had to stop.’

It wasn’t until Jo knew she was going to be on maternity leave that she started the team, recruiting potential players only a few weeks before she gave birth. ‘I wanted a hobby and had a lot more time on my hands so I thought I would get a team started in Barnsley.’

One of many unique features of Roller Derby is that every individual player adopts a unique name that juxtaposes femininity with violence. There is an international database of 20,000+ names; ensuring that no two players have the same name.

Roller Derby is one of the few sports out there that empowers women; it celebrates a positive body image, improves confidence and is a great way to exercise and let off steam.

If you want to keep up to date the Black Heart Rollers, you can do so on

Words by Jason White

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