Don’t cry for 2×4 Argentina
This past weekend, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association held its International Playoffs in Winston-Salem with Greensboro Roller Derby as its hosts. Twelve teams battled it out to advance and secure coveted spots in the WFTDA Championships held in Montreal, Canada, this November. One team, in particular, stole the hearts of GSORD members, as well as the rest of the roller derby community.
Macarena Pappalardo, aka Maki Lombera, a graphic designer and skater, and Lucila Zandoná, aka Lula Zan, skater and a psychologist (who works with autistic children) are best friends on 2 x 4 (Dos Por Cuatro) Roller Derby League. Both are also skaters of its charter A-Team, Team OSOM. Maki Lombera and Lula Zan have been playing roller derby for eight years. They are some of the earliest members of 2 x 4 Roller Derby, which began in Bueno Aires, Argentina, in 2010.
Due to Argentina’s history of political instability, high poverty level and its classification as a developing country, both women said it has been difficult, financially, for the league to play the sport. This is mainly due to geography. 2 x 4 Roller Derby is somewhat disadvantaged because they are isolated from the rest of the WFTDA-affiliated derby leagues. The league has to travel to the United States or Europe to move up in rankings since the WFTDA rankings depend on how often a league plays in sanctioned bouts.
As of August 2019, 2 x 4 ranks 12th out of 350 leagues.
(Greensboro Roller Derby is ranked 126th.)
2 x 4 Roller Derby practices outdoors, under an overpass, and inside of Chacabuco Park, a public space in the Parque Chacabuco section of Buenos Aires. They practice in that spot because it is free and they can’t afford to secure a permanent practice space indoors, like most other roller derby teams. (To learn more, go to the GoFundMe fundraiser organized by Derby Without Borders.)
“It’s hard because if it rains, we can’t practice,” Maki Lombera said. “It also fun because there are a lot of people practicing sports there, like dancing and parkour.”
“In winter, it is too cold and in summer, and it is very hot,” added Lula Zan.
“We don’t have bathrooms; we have to ask the restaurant on the corner if we can use theirs; those kind of things are not nice, but that is our space, and we love it,” Maki Lombera said.
According to an opinion piece published in the popular roller derby media outlet, The Apex, 2 x 4 league member Sabrina Papap wrote that roller derby should not be an economic privilege.
“The average wage is about 3 U.S. dollars per hour. It means that if you are lucky enough to have a decent full-time job, you will make about 500 U.S. dollars per month. In a roller derby trip, every 2 x 4 skater will spend about 1,000 U.S. dollars in tickets, lodging and food…Don’t you dare be damn good and get to Championships, because now you are supposed to spend half of your yearly income, just because you’re good at sports. I know that money is an issue for almost everyone playing this sport, but there’s a difference between setting aside some vacation money and having to decide to afford a living.”
The roller derby presence in Argentina is sparse, with only 2 x 4 and Sailor City Rollers representing Central/South America in the WFTDA.
“We don’t play a lot in Argentina,” Maki Lombera said. “Because we don’t have another team to play against. There are only one A-Team, they played at the Continental Cup last week, and sometimes there is a team from Chile that travels to play in Argentina. But we don’t have a lot of teams to play against, so we have to travel to USA.”
“We practice a lot,” Lula Zan explained. “We are very compromised with this sport.”
“We know it is difficult to do this sport in Argentina because our space and the money that we have to spend to travel, the skates, the gear,” Maki Lombera said. “So if we want to do it, we have to do it like for real.”
With their traveling expenses just to compete the league has to be creative with their fundraising. They offer raffles, make and sell food/drinks at their scrimmages and sell team merchandise. One of the team’s members, Ana Idiarte (aka Lob*[star]), also contributes with her brand of merch, No Puedo Tengo Derby, which means, “I Can’t, I Have Derby.”
Team OSOM made history this weekend at the Playoffs as the first Latin American team that will compete in the WFTDA Championships. The league came in third place, but things might have gone differently. Right before they were supposed to play in their first bout, the league had their luggage and gear bags locked inside of the rental car’s trunk.
“The girls were like crying and nervous because they wouldn’t have their skates and it is hard to play with another skate that you don’t know, and the T-shirt and the gear and mouthguards,” Maki Lombera said. “Everything was like a mess. We were trying to be focusing on the game, but we were very crazy. Suddenly, like 15 minutes before the game, they appear with their stuff. We didn’t have time to worry about the game, so that was the nice part.”
I asked the two women if they were nervous about coming to North Carolina since the controversial H.B. 2 has left a stain on the state’s reputation.
“No, we talked about that inside our league,” Lula Zan said. “In Argentina, there are a lot of things that happen, too. So if Playoffs are in Argentina, they will talk about insecurity and other things that are not part of our league. I think it is nice to support [Greensboro Roller Derby], they are not guilty of the things that happen around them, and we thought if we are here for roller derby, they chose this place because we will be safe in the derby community, so we trust in the team and the WFTDA.”
“Greensboro Roller Derby, they were really, really nice and they helped us a lot, and we never had a team help us so much like that,” Maki Lombera said. “We are really appreciative and happy about that.”
Their favorite parts about roller derby are the derby community and traveling to compete because they said it makes them stronger as a team.
“Be a good partner with your people and other teams,” said Maki Lombera on how roller derby can change the world. “Help each other. We rely on a lot of help, and we learn to give help also. I think it is a good thing about roller derby, and it is something that we should do more of.” “It is something everyone should do even outside of roller derby,” she added.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.