Saturday, December 21, 2013

Le Patin Français Triple Header

On December 14-15 took place the official public kick off of the 2014 Team France of Roller Derby. The team was announced in late August and the 40 of us had met once at the occasion of our first training a few weeks ago.
PRG Quedalles (121-177) Rollergirls of the Apocalypse
Team France Blue (301-122) Les Restes de la France I
Team France Red (213-67) Les Restes de la France II

The presentation of the French Team was organized as a Double header with an introduction game. That is to say THREE BOUTS in-a-row for the lucky spectators who managed to get one of the 700 tickets that were sold out in hardly 30 minutes on the Internet... The venue was the same as for the Paris RollerGirls All-Stars' last home game of the 2013 season against Team Unicorn which had encountered the same sold out problem last June.


The first bout featured the B Team of the hosting league, The Paris RollerGirls' Quedalles, who faced Kaiserslautern's Rollergirls of the Apocalypse for their return game. I have never heard of shrimps winning over walruses, and this time, like the first time, was no exception to the rule although they fought bravely. The game ends with an honest score of 121 to 177 in favor of the (Americano-)Germans.


Le Patin Français - Credit: Olivier Vax
The two following games were about that French Team presentation. The available players amongst the 40 were divided into two rosters of about 17 (!) and fought against two selections of players who had applied in advance to be part of the opposing teams.
Let's remind that the aim was above all to present the team in its whole with exhibition bouts, not to play regular bouts. 17 on a roster is a lot. Indeed it has the advantage of saving the players, who line up for their jams as fresh as daisies...
...But that is a huge drawback at the same time as slow rotations may cause frustration, demotivation, loss of concentration according to the players... Not to forget that a crowd of skaters on the bench doesn't make the task easy for the line-up manager!
The concept is none other than a reworked version of the very clever fundraising (and presentation) event of the 2011 French Team hosted by Roller Derby Bordeaux entitled "I Left My heart in Team France". The description evolved from plain "Team France Vs. La France Entière" to ironic "Team France Vs. Les Restes de la France", suggesting 'the rest of France' as well as 'the leftovers'.

The Restes were divided so that girls who happened to be from same leagues were rostered on the same bout, in order to have some team work. The Restes I fought Team France BLUE while the Restes II had to deal with Team France RED.


Supporting the last jam - Credit: The Blastart
Outfit fails are becoming a bit too much frequent to my taste when I'm around.
The Team France jerseys are still at work and we were provided with temporary Decathlon outfits. I have nothing against that popular sports supermarket which has a lot of products with a great quality/price ratio. YET as the saying goes "too much of a good thing..." 

However, we had a deal for our temporary outfits with Decathlon who provided us with two breathable tank tops and cotton capris (that's the fail). The tank tops are perfectly fine, it's a basic that every single derby girl must have in their sports wardrobe - if not, assuming that I count for 6, and now for 8 with the two newcomers, I am sure that I can help improving the stats!

I am far less positive about the cotton capris. The low waist cut must be very comfy for Yoga, but is certainly not recommended for derby! My personal point of reference is my navel: if it's not covered up by my capris, it's not safe enough for my butts' honor. Let's skip the problems of transparency, elasticity, and apparent sweat. And last but not least, they were obviously not washed beforehand and -I tried- but it was itching me so bad that I had to cheat. I confess. I had anticipated it. I must say that I'm getting pretty good at counter-attacking itchy pants... 

Sh*t happens, but it could have been worse: having had temporary outfits is a lot better than having to wear some random black scrimmage tees. Moreover, one fail out of three items is still a 66% success (if you don't take into consideration a few unlucky misunderstandings for the printings) but that doesn't affect our comfort of movement.


I didn't do a single penalty, I took all my leads, I played clean and square. That's a self-centered answer but that's about all I'm sure of. And that's about all I'm sure of what I am allowed to say. CENSORSHIP!

Just kidding. Truth is that it suits me well: I didn't see much of what happened as I was busy socializing. I spent my weekend saying hi, briefly catching up on people's news and moving on. I saw everybody and nobody, being everywhere and nowhere. Frustrating.


There were probably as many purposes to attend the game as there were players.

On the Restes side, I guess there were two to three main reasons to apply (separate or addable):
  • Actively supporting the French selection
  • Improving yourself in playing against stronger than you
  • Proving your worth to the French Team coaches just-in-case-so-that-they-keep-you-in-mind

 On the Team France side, it was about:
  • Presenting yourself
  • Confirming your selection to the coaches
  • Proving your selection to the opposing players of the Restes
  • Convincing the public that you were worth the job
  • But also discovering your team mates in a real bouting situation
  • Managing and perfecting common strategies
  • Achieving score goals
  • And of course winning

 For both sides, to those sports objectives you can obviously add the opportunities of:
  • Seeing buddies again
  • Showing how awesome you are to your mom and dad [ in your / fighting against ] Team France jerseys
  • Having a blast playing against your regular team mates
  • Eating bananas without feeling guilty
  • Buying everything in sight on the various merchandize stands, etc.

The atmosphere on the Team France bench, as well as on the track, was pretty composed despite the situation that was somewhat pressurizing (see goals above). Indeed, the outcome was written in advance: TEAM FRANCE HAD TO WIN. Which was both an evidence and an obligation.
How to put pressure on yourself in two words? "WHAT IF? Dude, what if I/we messed up?" Which was obviously so not an option.
It took longer than expected -a few warm-up jams- to both the Blues and the Reds to break themselves in and widen the score gap on their respective games. Things went just fine in the end as far as honor is concerned, with quite a composed play and basic strategies that we intend to master to perfection before building up on them.

Let's note that the final scores do not really reflect the games. Indeed we had the upper hand (thank goodness!) but the games were pretty responsive, i.e. not boring at all to play. Moreover there was an understanding atmosphere of 'We're all in this together' deprived of animosity, but without concessions either!

There was this running joke between Sailor Blood and me each time we were lined up on a jam against each other, echoing the very first jam of the original 2011 event that I mentioned above. Back to the source. I was jamming for Team France, she was pivoting for the Rest and warned her blockers in a most theatrical way "BEWARE, SHE JUMPS EVERYWHERE!" < whistle blows > Took me two seconds to take advange of her and jump the apex. Lead Jammer.
In remembrance of the 'Good Ol' Times' I was treated to a "beware-she-jumps-everywhere" at each jam started together. Which was just great!


Some may say that the games lacked impressive or surprizing feats (?) It may have been so, because, if you re-read the lists of objectives above, it was not on the agenda. Before playing a masterpiece, you make sure you master your scales.
Indeed it's true again that it was a 'now-or-never' situation as we will probably not have the occasion of an exhibition event soon again to try unconventional stuff. We chose to remain well-behaved and disciplined (talking about me, at least). Let's not forget that we have but a few trainings together, and that every single occasion should also be seen as an extra team training opportunity.


Our score goals were not achieved as we were originally aiming at widening the gap more. Yet I am pretty satisfied about us because we are taking time to go along the same path altogether as a team. Of course our time is short and it was not perfect: it was our first public outing and we only had one common training so far. But some things have already been integrated.

And all we need is MORE TEAM BONDING, which will lead to more team work, confidence, entrustment, collective improvement, and eventually annihilation of Team USA in Dallas. Easy Peasy.


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