By LIM MAY LEE & NAVEENA JAMES
CHEER 2015 was launched on Thursday, and now everything is kicking into high gear!
Cheerleaders across the country have been training hard for this year’s chance at cheerleading glory at CHEER, Malaysia’s premier inter-school cheerleading competition.
The 16th edition – yes, 16th! – of CHEER will see quite a few changes. For one, we’re having it in a brand-new arena this year, the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre.
Also, we’re upping the drama and excitement by making it one day instead of two. That means no do-overs, and no second chances. This year, the teams have to go big or go home.
“This year, we want to increase the intensity and competitiveness among the teams. It’s time to try something new. ” said Star Publication’s chief revenue officer Lim Bee Leng during the launch at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya.
“We’re also very thankful to have the support of our partners, like U Mobile, in our effort to keep growing this sport,” she said, adding that one of the ways to develop cheerleading is by handing out CHEER Foundation grants.
Speaking of the CHEER Foundation grant, one more thing that’s new about this competition is the fact that we have given out three grants worth RM10,000 each to teams that showed the passion and potential we have come to expect from CHEER teams.
The three teams we rewarded showed promise, but lacked the money needed to pay for quality equipment and proper training.
Teams Vibrant from SMK Puteri Titiwangsa, Blitzerz from SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (4) and Anselm from SMK Infant Jesus Convent, will now have the funding they need to pay for equipment and get proper training under coaches sanctioned by the Cheerleading Association and Register of Malaysia (CHARM).
“We will continue to support CHEER and play a part in the development of this sport,” said Jasmine Lee, chief marketing officer of U Mobile, commending The Star on its efforts to develop cheerleading from a school activity to the rapidly growing sport it is today. “CHEER is a great brand fit for us, with its youthful energy and positive competitive spirit, and with the introduction of the grant, we can see a sustainable future where the sport continues to grow.”
It’s definitely not easy to become a CHEER champion. Besides the countless hours of training, the sheer monetary cost of attending competitions can be a huge burden to the teenagers, who already have so much on their plates.
“We’ve had to raise money by selling t-shirts and badges to cover our expenses, and even then our money problems mean we’ve been cheering without proper mats which makes us more injury-prone,” said Vibrant captain Lee Ivy, 18, who added that dislocations and twisted ankles are common due to their poor equipment. “Now that we have the money, the first thing I’m going to do is buy proper mats.”
“We’ve been planning this grant foundation for a long time now,” said R.AGE editor Ian Yee. “It’s great to see our ideas coming to life and giving potential CHEER champions the help they need. We’re excited to play a bigger role in the development of this sport.”
The defending champions of CHEER 2014, the Cyrens from SM Sri Kuala Lumpur, were also present for the ceremonial returning of the CHEER trophies.
“Our biggest competition would be ourselves,” said Cyrens captain Genevieve Liew Shan Jun, 17. Just so you’re in the loop, the Cyrens have reigned as unbeaten CHEER champions for the past five years, consistently crushing their (very worthy) contenders.
Every year we watch with bated breath, wondering if this almost impossible streak will continue, and every year they leave the arena triumphant, trophy in hand. That being said, the Cyrens are definitely not taking anything for granted.
“We know the other teams are also working really hard, so we’re expecting really tough competition this year. But we will give our best, and hope our efforts pay off again and result in a sixth win!” they said.
Wanna hear what the cheerleaders themselves have to say? Click here!
The highlights from CHEER’s 16 years – and still going strong – history.
Malaysia’s leading cheerleading competition, CHEER, was introduced to provide a platform for aspiring Malaysian cheerleaders to showcase their talents. In that first year, only 15 teams participated!
Cheerleading Association and Register of Malaysia (CHARM), the national governing body of cheerleading in Malaysia, was formed. The Best Newcomer Award was also introduced.
CHEER had its first all-boys team: Vulcanz All-Boys from SMK Seafield. The team placed sixth overall and won the Best Newcomer Award – not bad for a first attempt.
Vulcanz All Boys were the second runner-up at CHEER 2005, the first all-boy team to make it to the top three.
Soo Kui Jien hosts CHEER for the eighth – and last – time. Red FM deejay Jeremy Teo took over the following year.
Stunners All-Boys added a cupie (a high level stunt) to their routine, making history as no other team had ever performed that stunt in CHEER.
To celebrate CHEER’s 10th anniversary, a special concert was held, featuring leading Malaysian bands like One Buck Short and Deja Voodoo Spells.
The co-ed division was introduced in CHEER 2011 for the very first time, allowing mixed gender teams to participate.
Popular radio and TV host, Azura Zainal, who co-hosted CHEER 2000, returned to host the competition after a 12-year hiatus.
A brand new division, All Girls Juniors, was introduced to ensure new teams were not at a disadvantage, as some teams had competed in CHEER for over 13 years. Teams in this category are not allowed to perform certain advanced stunts like double downs.
Marking the 15th anniversary of CHEER, Cyrens from SMK Seri KL tied the CHEER record set by team Shirtlift from SMK Bukit Bintang for the most titles won in the competition history.
This year, teams in the All Juniors division must perform level three stunts, a departure from the level two stunts that were allowed in 2014. CHEER will also move to a brand new venue this year, migrating from Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil to the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre.