In Egypt, Saturday nights are for staying in — the workweek starts on Sunday. But for the members of CaiRollers, Egypt’s first all-female roller derby team, it’s for skating.
The team’s 20 members meet for three hours every week, at the Cairo International Stadium’s outdoor handball courts, to practice. It’s an aggressive game, requiring full body contact like hip and shoulder checks. But that’s why players like Lina El-Gohary, 27, love it.
“It makes you believe that you’re still able to learn at any age. It empowers you,” she says.
Two American women, Shaneikiah Bickham and Angie Malone-Kaster, brought the sport to Egypt in 2012. They were working in Cairo as teachers and had previous experience playing roller derby in the U.S. They had a hunch their Egyptian girlfriends would dig the game, so they organized a team and started practicing in the school’s parking lot.
The American women were right: Roller derby was a hit. While the game is not commonly known in Egypt — more than half the world’s amateur roller derby teams are from the U.S. — the CaiRollers managed to keep running even after the two co-founders left the country in 2014.
Photos: Marwa Sameer Morgan for NPR