Peppy Nephrine is a member of the Dublin Roller Girls, Ireland’s first roller derby league. Unable to resist the idea of playing an all-female, fast-paced team contact sport on wheels, she joined the league in April 2010. She has played a number of bouts in Ireland and the UK with the Dublin Roller Girls’ travel team and also assists the league’s PR and marketing officer, Tina Gutt-Her & Jamm.
When the skates come off, Áine Ní Choisdealbha is a student of neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, and reallocates the drive, ambition and assertiveness Peppy shares with her DRG team-mates to her academic work. (Photo credit: Simo Naif)
Because I am a Girl I ask… what I can do to become more engaged in my sporting and academic fields, how I can assume leadership roles, and how I can help and work with other women on the same paths.
Because I am a Girl I believe…that I can use my body and mind in an assertive and even aggressive way without compromising my femininity.
Because I am a Girl I hope…women’s team sports will soon get the airtime and viewing figures of men’s team sports, because they are just as exciting to watch and the players and fans have just as much passion.
Because I am a Girl I wonder…when the people in my life not caught up in roller derby will stop worrying about me getting hurt every time I get hit! I’m small but not delicate, and derby girls are tough and sensible women who definitely don’t treat each other with kid gloves but don’t set out to cause injuries either.
Because I am a Girl I dream…of a world where no girl or woman will be hindered in her goals, choices and achievements because of her gender (or race, class or sexual orientation for that matter).
Because I am a Girl I remember…how becoming involved in sports taught me that, as a woman, my body shouldn’t be viewed as a target for others’ aggression or as a tool of oppression. Only when I began to play derby did I truly appreciate how much my body is capable of in terms of speed, agility and strength, and understand how horrific it is that some women are deprived of authority over their bodies.
Because I am a Girl I like…training hard with my Dublin Roller Girls team-mates to develop new strategies, improve our game and achieve common goals (such as winning!)
Because I am a Girl I dislike…feeling like I’ve let the fantastic women on my team (and our wonderful coach) down if I make a bad decision on the track.
Because I am a Girl I feel…incredibly privileged to come from a background where my education and achievements have always been supported and valued by my family and friends, and hopeful that in my lifetime more girls and women in the developing world will be given access to education and the power that results from knowledge.
Because I am a Girl I…cannot emphasise enough how empowering playing a sport is, or how incredible it is to work on a team with other women, all of whom are not only assertive and bright themselves, but appreciative of those traits in their team-mates. I can only hope that young women all over the world who do not have the choice to engage in sports or to work with one another towards common goals will have those opportunities, and the empowerment that follows, opened to them soon.
– Peppy Nephrine