Rollers on a roll

Meet the group of people who decided to bring the concept of roller derby to Malta.

“Like the rest of the human race circa 2020, we got bored sitting around on our arses in the middle of a pandemic. So, we strapped on our skates and decided it was high time Malta had its own roller derby league.”

This is how the Honey Island Rollers describe themselves. Operating under the ownership and management of its league, with both trainers and skaters dedicating their time on a volunteer basis, this is a group of people who decided to bring the concept of roller derby to Malta, establishing their league in response to the desire for activity and connection.

This league embraces inclusivity, democracy, and equality, opening its doors to women and individuals of diverse gender identities as skaters, and welcoming all genders to serve as referees or non-skating officials (NSOs). Training sessions for the Honey Island Rollers are held bi-weekly, with the team also gathering for social skating events at the Msida skatepark on occasion.

Funding for voluntary organisations

The Honey Island Rollers were fortunate to receive support through funding programmes aimed at voluntary organisations. This financial aid enabled them to introduce roller skating classes to the community, specifically targeting beginners and providing them with a secure and welcoming environment.

Essential equipment such as first aid kits, roller skates, protective padding, and helmets were purchased to ensure safety and accessibility. The initiative sought to popularise roller skating, making it accessible to diverse groups including individuals with intellectual disabilities, members of the LGBTQI community, and immigrant women. This allocation of funds to the Honey Island Rollers was part of a broader effort to support community projects.

This year, voluntary associations have received a total of €1 million to carry out 87 new projects with the potential to significantly benefit the community. These grants are distributed through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme (VOPS) and the Small Initiatives Scheme (SIS), both overseen by the Maltese Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS), underscoring a commitment to enhancing community engagement and inclusivity through targeted financial support.

Since their inception, the two funding programmes have facilitated the implementation of over 700 projects with a combined funding total of €7.8 million. The VOPS, launched in 2016, has directed more than €6.5 million towards 358 projects over nine years.

In the current year, €800,000 was awarded to 46 new projects, supporting a range of initiatives including infrastructural improvements, research, and projects aimed at fostering inclusion.

Speaking to The Journal, the Minister for Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Julia Farrugia Portelli, emphasised the government’s commitment towards enhancing the effectiveness of initiatives like the Small Initiatives Scheme (SIS) and the VOPS in the future. She highlighted the ongoing efforts to simplify processes for volunteers by enacting laws aimed at minimizing bureaucratic obstacles, thereby facilitating a smoother operation for those involved in voluntary work.

Meanwhile, the Honey Island Rollers are on a roll (if you will excuse the pun). They are heading to Malaga, Spain, for their first-ever competitive games.

“We can’t wait to show off our skills and bring some Maltese charm to the roller derby scene in Spain,” they declared publicly ahead of this buzzing event

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