Chili Padi Derby Grrrls
Known across the world as ‘the little red dot’ on the end of the South-East Asian peninsula, Singapore is home to amazing food, fashion, shopping, architecture and now, hot chilli women, the Chilli Padi Derby Grrls.
Aptly named after the tiny and viciously hot chilli ‘Chilli Padi’ (or Birds Eye Chilli), Chilli Padi Derby Grrls (CPDG) is the first Singaporean roller derby league.
Having myself grown up in the ‘little red dot’, I returned for a period of time last year, bemoaning the lack of derby that would keep me away from training.
There must have been something in the air, because the league was formed a few months later in September 2010.
Founding league member Taferine Huang and CPDG web mistress and blogger Mandy Liew both had their first taste of derby right here in Australia.
In fact many of the key skaters in the league attended a number of fresh meat training sessions in Australia, and have taken their enthusiasm for the sport back home.
“I found out there was no derby in Singapore and if I wanted to skate again I had to start a team,” Taferine says.
So, in typical DIY derby style, she did.
“Being the first league in Singapore, we were struggling with having to sell the sport to people who didn’t have a clue what roller derby was about,” Taferine says.
“Even the roller derby Whip It didn’t survive the cinemas and was taken off the screen after just three weeks.”
The league’s closest derby sisters are based Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This Malaysian league is still in the very beginning stages of infancy with CPDG co-founder Miriam Omar, who is Malaysian, helping to establish it.
The lucky girls of CPDG have been able to reap the benefits of a government-funded youth-oriented training space and started training in January this year.
Unfortunately, the space isn’t bout friendly (damn those pillars) and the league is looking for a new place to move to.
Adelaide Roller Derby League’s Ankle Grinder stopped off in Singapore recently and participated in a training session with CPRG.
She had a number of glowing words for the girls.
“Their determination is pretty inspiring as starting a league in Singapore definitely seems to be quite a challenge,” she said.
Grinder said she regretted not having spoken to them more beforehand, to find out how she might have contributed more to the league.
“I would absolutely encourage experienced Australian skaters to offer their support and skills to the girls.”
While the Chilli Padi Derby Grrls are not yet bout-ready, they’re assembling skaters, breaking into teams, hosting guests, getting publicity and doing all the magical tasks that new leagues take on in their first few months.
I expect some really wonderful things from them, and hope they get strong support and recognition.
The league serves as an awesome example of derby’s international appeal.
Some parting words from the league’s founder:
“Do skate with us if you come down to Singapore, we would love to play host and meet more derby folks from around the world.”
I can’t wait.
as seen in Issue 5, Winter 2011.