It’s more than just pom poms and dancing with mascots at sporting events – cheerleading is a serious, international sport in its own right.
And more than 10,000 cheerleaders converged on the Gold Coast Convention Centre at the weekend for the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation National Championships.
Executive Director of the Fhederation, Stephen James told myGC that 1400 teams from all over Australia were dancing, flipping and performing other stunts to vie for their national champion jackets.
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“It’s like the grand final of our sport,” he said.
“They’re getting judged on a 2-minute 30 routine. They’re getting judged on their stunts, their tumbling, their motions, their dance elements. And we’ve got over 32 American judges here from the world championships – as well as a couple of Australian judges – looking at certain elements for them to hit during those routines.”
Mr James says a lot of people still think of cheerleading as just background dancers at sporting events such as the AFL and NRL.
“They’ve got a job to fulfil,” he said, “but they’re not competitive all star cheerleaders.”
And while most of the cheerleaders from this event will be heading home tomorrow, a number of the winners will be selected to compete at the 2017 World Championships in Florida.
Mr James told myGC: “Over the last eight years, we’ve got three silvers and four bronzes at the world championships. So Australia is very much a recognised powerhouse in All Star Cheerleading around the world.
“America is still there – they’ve got 3.5 million of them, but they’re always watching what we do.
This weekend’s event was also a great boon for local businesses. A cost-impact study by the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation found that 96 per cent of people at the event came from outside the region – bringing over 26 million into our local economy.