Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.

I have sold out. I can’t believe I’m about to say this… but I have taken a role within WFTDA OffCom.


Before you hiss and back away, let me tell you about the new ad hoc panel they have started, and why I am mother flipping chairing it.

  1. It’s about Diversity and Inclusion. WHICH I LOVE.
  2. It will look to give a voice to under-represented groups. WHICH IS A GOOD THING.
  3. It will work directly to OffCom, looking at suggestions and ideas, testing them for durability and then putting the best ones forward. WHICH IS USEFUL.

Ok ok ok. Yes it’s WORTHY, but can I just point out how much we bloody need something like this.

I shared my “action plan” (see below… I laboured over this for far far too long), and had someone compare it to “men telling women how to not be assaulted”.

Such a strong reaction to someone trying to make positive changes really makes you think doesn’t it?

Add in to that that this was in a female officiating group – and nearly as many people liked that comment as liked my post – and you know there is an issue.


Then I spoke to Mat who said “well that just proves how much it’s needed”.


He’s a good lad isn’t he?

Thing is, he’s right.

If the people you’re trying to help (I’m part of that group too remember) assume your hard work is tokenistic and well-meaning-but-ultimately-doomed, then you know you need to do the thing and try and help, because things are not rainbows and kittens at the moment.

So I was like YES I NEED TO DO THIS.

I ended up doing this because… and this may shock you to read… I complained about things so much that they were like OK GO AND FIX IT THEN. And I was like:


Thing is. I have many reasons for wanting to do this:

  • I have a lot of feels about a lot of situations and I finally have people that will listen to me.
  • I’m also off skates now so I have time to take things like this on.
  • I am annoyed that I couldn’t see myself going any further than I did when I had the chance.

I came to refereeing as “a fun thing” originally. Naturally I ended up wanting to make it to the top, like I always do. I decided to go for referee certification. I put in a lot of work, time and money. I reached Level 2 – something I’m very proud of.

But in my time in certification, I realised that it’s unlikely that I would be able to progress any further – regardless as to my skills, holiday allowance and money.

This is because the systems in place – created with good intentions – are no longer fit for the job.

Our sport has grown. Interest in refereeing has grown. We have people wanting to reach the top of officiating that were never even considered when the structures were put in place to rank referees. That’s no one’s fault. However it’s everyone’s shame that those structures are now silos, stopping us from moving forward. Stopping us from opening doors to everyone that is willing to put in the effort to stand up and be counted.

In my opinion some people have being skipped-over when others have been progressed far beyond their abilities. I see patterns in these groups. I know others see these patterns.

I see people willing to admit things aren’t right, but I don’t see anyone able to dedicate time to making changes.

So… I offered my time to do it.

I’m coming from the angle of a European female. I have experienced being held back. I have seen others like me being held back. And because of those experiences, I can’t not do this.

I can’t leave roller derby having trained so many amazing women to referee… knowing that they won’t progress higher than I did.

They have so much potential, far more than I have, and I can’t knowingly leave them to battle harder than anyone else and only make it halfway up the road. The feminist in me would rather remove them from derby and teach them badminton than let that happen. BADMINTON. See how serious I am here?

I feel like their mother – I want them to have the opportunity to go as far as they want. But the evidence says those opportunities are not there for them at the moment:

At Level 5 we have… 13 males. 0 females.
Level 4 we have 18 refs. 1 female.
Level 3 there are 56 refs, 12 of them are females.

Which… isn’t… great. Is it Beyonce?


Out of all of those, there is one European female: Cherry Fury.


*cough* Do you think she is anything less than a Level 5? No? Good, we’re agreed.

*deletes rant about this whole sorry situation* *takes deep breath* *gets angry again*

I used to laugh when people answered my question of: “What do you need to do to be a Level 5 referee?” with “Be a white American male with a beard”. But similar to this article in the Guardian which shows that there are more men named John leading FTSE firms than the are women (not women named John, just women at all), it’s not a laughing matter.

And it’s not just about women.

I have my experiences. You have yours. I can’t talk about yours without talking to you. But I want to talk to you. I want to know what this is like for you. And I want to work to help fix that situation. I want to make sure we get together as diverse as possible a panel to speak for everyone in officiating.

I want to pull together a panel of people that know more than I do, that are as fierce about fixing things as I am.

I want to see more balance.

I want people to look at all levels of refereeing and see themselves reflected back. All genders, nationalities, ages, sexualities… I want the people you see to be an accurate representation of the community they come from.

I know we’re not all white American males with beards. I know some of you are. We need those beardy-blokes too. They’re part of our community. But they’re a part of it. They’re not all of it.

WFTDA has a brilliant slogan, it aims to be: Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.

I think we should take that last bit seriously. I think we need a revolution.

My call to action (please share!):

I am in the process of working with WFTDA OffCom to create a Diversity and Inclusion panel – with the bold aim of increasing the opportunities and visibility of the under-represented members of our community.

We are seeking to broaden representation in terms of race, national origin/geography, gender identity, class and other groups and communities, recognising that OffCom leadership has not always represented the breadth of diversity in WFTDA officiating.

It’s my belief that diversity is important in order to appreciate and value the difference in people, and the remarkable contribution we can make when we work together.

I also believe that issues can’t just be fixed by wishful thinking and hoping… I hope that others share this belief and will work with me to make positive changes.

My aims are:
· To create a panel that better represents the diversity of our community, and gives more of a voice to the groups that are currently under-represented.
· To provide a destination for WFTDA officials and team representatives to send their ideas and suggestions surrounding D&I.
· To encourage and support changes at grass roots levels, providing a healthier start for people within officiating.
· To encourage and support changes throughout officiating to enable those under-represented groups to move up in areas where they have not had equal opportunity to do so.

Yes. It is a big task. And that’s why I need help.

The panel will sit within OffCom, and as such is only open to certified officials and WFTDA official reps.

The panel will be appointed and volunteer based at the start, will sit under OffCom elect leadership and serve as advisor to OffCom leadership.
Structure will be based on successful models already in action within WFTDA panels, but suggestions and feedback on this will be listened to.

So! I need your help to put me in touch with the people you think most fit the bill for this. Whether as potential panel members or simply as people willing to contribute at the start in order to make this the best it can be.

I’m open to all your contacts, so please send them my way. Or if this sounds like something you would like to do, please get in touch. I can be contacted on:

I really appreciate your support in this, and hope to make some positive changes with your help.

Finally I just want to say thank you to those at the top that messaged me to tell me to keep fighting. The ones who listened to my suggestions about changes and rather than saying they didn’t want to rock the boat, they said “Yes please!”

The ones that even went so far as to offer me a place to work on Diversity and Inclusion.

Thank you for telling me to ignore the haters and instead stun them into silence them with the job I do.

If you didn’t live so far away I would totally paw your faces off. Thank you.



Allow me to introduce you to… Ref School

This plan came to be when I was made aware that a lot of leagues want to help their baby refs but don’t know where to start. In the name of sharing best practices, furthering the wealth of roller derby refereeing and generally being a good egg… I wrote this plan.

All info has been taken from WFTDA, MRDA and other reliable sources and compiled by Von Sleaze with help, input and contributions from Orla Skew, Duncan Disorderly, stubble entendre and Rev Riot.

Special thanks to Orla Skew and Duncan Disorderly who have copy-edited and fact-checked all my work, and donated their time to this project so generously.

This is not meant as an exhaustive plan, but a guide to make sure newer referees are taught everything they need to know to start out in roller derby.


Ref School

Who, what, when, where and how?
Ref school is for newer refs. It goes through everything in the rules and includes some guidance on whistle-blowing, confidence and personal development plans.

It is a 12-week programme and will require someone to teach sessions. It is best run with one or two head coaches and support from others. If your league has a HR, ask them to be involved.

I suggest a mentor system and further training plans – these are an ideal but certainly not a necessity if your league can’t support this.

The sessions are best run in tandem with your league’s training, with “classroom” style training for an hour and then the chance to watch/officiate scrimmage afterward. The sessions are written with this time frame in mind unless stated in the weekly plans.

The weekly sessions are broken down into a step-by-step guide and links to help. I would suggest sharing the links and others you find with the newbie refs and encouraging conversation and learning throughout.

Skating skills:
It is advisable that referees complete the WFTDA min skills with a roller derby league. This gives a referee the chance to learn a variety of skating skills, stops, starts and how to withstand the occasional tap (and of course time to bond with a team).

However not all of the skills are necessary for refereeing, here is a breakdown of the skills a ref should learn in min skills:

Ref school is a structured 12 week plan:

This should be completed in full. Each week is important so if a session is to be missed, this should be raised before the induction of the training and should be caught up at the earliest opportunity.

The sessions are not all the same length – some are longer because they’re full of facts that won’t need much explanation, others will open up a fair amount of discussion. Pre-read the session before teaching it so you know what session you have ahead of you.

The broken-down plans can be found here:

Some of the sessions refer to these bloody useful sheets written by Orla Skew (aka Zebra Skew: They break down reffing positions and explain where to be, what to look for and how to prep:

All sessions can be paired with drills, I haven’t stipulated what drills on all sessions, only the ones where a certain drill is really needed. To help you compose your lessons I have compiled some good drills I have used in the past to help give you some inspiration:

Further sessions and keeping it fun:
If you have the manpower, include additional extra-curricular meet ups to discuss things in more detail or go over things that didn’t stick first time round.
Use this as a team-building exercise outside of normal training times. I’d highly recommend doing this a couple of times if you can.

I would also recommend doing something purely for fun i.e organise headshots of everyone in stripes or take a trip to watch a game together.

Levels of refereeing:
Completing this course will not necessarily make you a game-ready referee. Your HR and coaches will be in a better position to address your suitability for games.

To help with this grading of referees, here is a guide you may wish to use/adapt at your league:

There is also advice in there for leagues looking at when to progress their referees and when to look into certification.

Continued support:
Refereeing can be a lonely venture – please offer additional support to keep your zebras interested.

I recommend offering a mentor to newer refs from within your ref crew, someone else for them to talk to aside from the course tutor. If this isn’t possible, consider speaking to other local ref crews, or skaters within your league. This will help the new refs to network.

Advise the newer refs to log their learning somehow (googledoc, diary etc) so they can see their progression and pinpoint any sticking points in their learning.

Once your refs have completed their 12-week plan, ask them to think about their future and work on a development plan with them – see here for more details on this doc:

Consider looking at training yourself in giving feedback and constructive criticism too – you will be asked to give it, so best to prepare yourself so it’s a positive experience for everyone.

So… that’s it. All I can say now is GOOD LUCK!

If you have any questions about the plan, contact me here or on:

Any questions about the rules, ref training, ref certification or other should be sent to WFTDA directly:


Ref Cert: Staying within the lines

So this just happened: 

So bloody pleased. Even more so that I did it in tandem with my ref buddy stubble entendre. Well done champ. Well done.

It’s been a year since I applied for certification for the first time. When I did it, I wrote this blog:

I wanted to document the process because it wasn’t clear to me and there were things I was just expected to know. I have been told by others going through the process that they found that blog post really useful – so I’m writing one to show the things I have learnt in a year of being certified… about the process of certification.

Number 1: You have to wait a full year to apply to level up
I thought getting Level 1 was ace and within the year I would be able to gather the evidence needed to prove that I was at Level 2, go for it, and get it. I was wrong. Your certification lasts two years, but you need to hold your cert for one whole year before you can apply to level up.

You can also apply to level down… if after a year of being certified you decide the lower level is better for you, you can apply for this in the same way you would apply to level up.

Number 2: Letters of recommendation v Feedback
I didn’t know about feedback when I applied for Level 1.

Think of it like this: When you apply to be married the council have to display your intentions on a roster/board that people can view and raise any objections they have with it… e.g you’re not legally allowed to get married.

It’s similar to application for certification. You apply, they put a list including your name and what level you’re applying for on the WFTDA forum and all certified officials and WFTDA reps can access this and contact ref cert to say YEY or NAY (with evidence) to help with the decision on whether to give you what you’re asking for. This feedback is taken in email form and is only seen by the people who give out certification. It is not made public.

I didn’t know about this because I wasn’t on that forum (because I wasn’t certified), and no one else told me. You may not have known about it either, but now you do.

The thing with feedback is that it relies on people spotting your name and being driven to message in. I’m not confident enough to leave this kind of thing to chance so I opt for letters of recommendation.

As mentioned in my previous blog this isn’t just a free-for-all where you ask everyone to write in about how ace you are. It’s best if you pick say three people you have worked with recently who are already seen highly in the eyes of ref cert (made friends with a Level 5? You best be asking them to vouch for you!). This letter will hold the same weight as feedback from the WFTDA forum.

Ref cert accept letters of recommendation from anyone for any level. They do not add them to the certification checklist unless they are required for a person to apply at that level. I have been assured by ref cert that all feedback and letters sent in are read.

Number 3: Everything has an expiry date
But trying to pin down what bits and when is difficult.

However, these bits I do know: If you have passed a written test and a new one comes out, you have a grace period of a month before your old pass is null and void. That means you need to get your application in to ref cert to be considered asap. They only check them once a month remember, so don’t hang around.

If you do your skating skills and don’t apply to cert for ages, you should re do it within two years. It’s generally understood that you will do this skating skills assessment annually, but that’s more for your benefit to track your progress (to make sure you’re not slipping and to prove to yourself and others that you’re physically up to the task). But if you have it on file, ref cert will drop it off after two years.

Evals will purge after two years. Unless they are needed for any grievance procedures or similar. That’s actually pretty useful – you don’t want to be judged now on your ability to ref two years ago, right?

Number 4: Sometimes things change
So completely by accident I found out that the cut off date for applications changed. It’s now the 10th and not the 15th of each month.
The day you find out your results has changed too, it used to be the first day of the next month and now it’s from the 26th of that month onwards, with public announcements being made on 1st. More info on that and the FAQs here!

So if you’re one of those leave-it-til-the-last-minuters… DON’T. Because if you wait til the 14th to hand in your application, you’ve missed that month’s intake and you’ll be assessed in the next month.

Also there is no review in December… Everyone needs time off.

And last but not least… ref cert no longer use regional email addresses, just for everything now.

So that’s it from me – GOOD LUCK!

About referee certification:
Ref cert FAQs:
Previous blog post on ref certification: