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While they're dressed in sparkles, fishnets and striped knee socks and wearing rollerskates, this is one bunch of women you wouldn't want to mess with — they have elbows and they're not afraid to use them.

Perth Roller Derby's "rollergirls" are gearing up for their first serious "bouts" after almost a year of hard scrimmage.

In this fast and furious all-women sport which originated in the US in the 1930s, two teams of four blockers zoom around a circuit in intense half-hour bouts, trying to prevent the other team's jammer scoring points by forcing their way through.

PRD president Jennifer Stritzke, 27, aka Maggie Snatcher, said when the volunteerrun Perth league formed in July 2008 after a worldwide resurgence of the sport in 2003, none of its members could skate.

"We started going to learn-to-skate classes with six-year-olds and the teacher was just standing there going, 'Oh my god, I've been able to do that since I was four', while we were all falling over," she laughed. "We can all rollerskate quite well now, so the test is really about whether or not we can scrimmage safely, block and take hits — there's a lot of pushing and shoving."

A roller derby league has sprung up in every major city in Australia. In Perth, 35 women aged from 19 to 42 from all walks of life are involved, each adopting a quirky moniker such as Minnie Screwdriver, Bangers and Smash or Bo Skiddley.

Coach Hot Wheels, aka Lara Irons, a State ice and inline hockey player, martial artist and body builder, is one of 12 Australian players and the only one from WA heading to Las Vegas in July for Rollercon, an international competition of 1000 rollergirls. She said she was attracted to the sport as it was "a little bit of glamour and a little bit of slammer".

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