CHEERLEADING looks glamorous and effortless, but it really involves a lot of sweat, grit and determination – and that’s just during their performances!
To practise the sport in Malaysia, the athletes – mostly secondary school students – also have to scrape together money to pay for equipment, coaching, uniforms and even proper shoes. They work incredibly hard both on and off the mat, and yet they rarely get the recognition they deserve.
That’s why we at R.AGE wanted to do something different this year to help the teams participating in CHEER – Malaysia’s top secondary school cheerleading team – get an extra shot of confidence ahead of the CHEER finals on Aug 15.
Enter the CHEER Celebrity Supporter project, where we picked six deserving CHEER teams and assigned each of them a celebrity ambassador.
The celebrities will be visiting their adopted teams to not only find out first-hand just how dedicated and talented these cheerleaders are, but also to inspire them to keep on keeping on – especially for the teams struggling for financial and moral support.
So, without further ado, here are the six winning teams, and their celebrities ambassadors:
Muriel, SMK (P) Pudu
Muriel has come a long way since placing 15th at CHEER 2011. They placed fourth last year thanks to the efforts of coaches Azie Ayu and Leng Kim Swee, but it was a rough ride – they aren’t fully funded by their school so the 32 members chip in money from their own pockets to keep the team afloat. However, they do have the support of their parents, who help out with uniforms, accessories and fees. The enterprising Muriel cheerleaders have also turned to selling shirts, badges and caps to raise more funds for equipment.
Celebrity supporter: Joseph Germani, YouTube star
“Being a supporter is a dream come true! I always wanted to be a part of CHEER in high school, but I wasn’t cheerleader material, so this is FINALLY a chance for me to get involved! Plus, Muriel is from SMK (P) Pudu, and my mom used to study there. #represent”
Zodiac Co-Ed, SMK Kepong
Zodiac Co-Ed has been making waves at CHEER in recent years. They were Co-Ed Division champions in 2012, fifth in 2013, and champions again in 2014. Still, the team faces constant financial constraints, as their school can only afford to give them a set amount every month to help out with costs. But they work very hard every year and we think this dedication deserves a celebrity ambassador, so…
Celebrity supporter: Prakash Daniel, Stand-up comedian, YouTube star and photographer
“I’m looking forward to learning some stunts and moves from the team, and I’m also really excited to see how hard they’re training for CHEER 2015!”
Calyx All-Girls, SMJK Katholik
SMJK Katholik is a great example of how cheerleading can unite an entire school. The school’s support of their very first cheerleading team, Calyx All-Girls, brought the students, teachers and parents together, all working to help the cheerleaders achieve their dreams. Today, they have added two Calyx Junior teams as well as a Calyx Co-Ed team. The school also supports them as they perform at events and competitions, allowing them to gain exposure and confidence.
Celebrity supporter: Dennis Yin, professional dancer and YouTube star
“I started off as a cheerleader so I know the hard work it takes to be a great team. The key word is TEAM, so work hard as a team and win! GO FIGHT WIN!”
Dynamitez, SMK Damansara Jaya
CHEER champions in 2005 and 2007, this all-girl team is fiercely independent. These girls have made it on their own without a cheerleading coach (they work with a gym coach on fitness, but come up with their own routines). Last year, they came so close to becoming champions again, but lost out to the Cyrens from SM Sri Kuala Lumpur. The loss didn’t dampen their explosive spirits one bit, as they’re now training five days a week to reclaim their title!
Celebrity supporters: YouTube stars Reuben Kang, Jared Lee and Marianne Tan
“I’m excited to be able to support Dynamitez because they are amazingly creative and fun to watch – I’ll be expecting explosive energy from the girls!” said Tan.
“I’ve got a question, though,” said Reuben. “If I’m cheering for the cheerleaders, who are the cheerleaders cheering for?”
“I’m not a celebrity, but I’m happy to be a supporter. Also, I’m expecting the team to win,” added Jared jokingly. Or maybe he was serious …
Cyrens, SM Sri Kuala Lumpur
If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because they’ve won CHEER five years in a row! The team believes their success is down to a few things – their willingness to think of “we” instead of “me”, their gruelling training which runs almost all year round, and the expertise of their coach, Tan Yee Ming, who also coaches Calyx All-Girls. We love their determination to always be better despite winning so many years in a row, and that’s why they can add two energetic celeb supporters to their ever-growing fan base!
Celebrity supporters: Red FM deejays JJ and Ezra, from the Red Breakfast WTF show
Just dig deep and try your best – that’s JJ’s advice for his team. “Don’t be in it just to win it – make a difference and blow everyone away!” he said.
Ezra added: “I know this is a competition, and we might get a little crazy sometimes, but it’s all about ‘cheer’, so I’d love to see a sense of community among the competing teams.”
Anselm, SMK Infant Jesus Convent
Anselm has lofty ambitions – to be the first team from Melaka to bring home the CHEER trophy. But they’ve had many obstacles to overcome, including a lack of support and financial troubles.
In fact, CHEER 2015 might be their last chance to compete. They’re having trouble finding a replacement teacher advisor, so they are determined to make the most of what may be their final opportunity!
Celebrity supporter: Red FM deejay and veteran CHEER host, Jeremy Teo
“There is a great deal of effort put into this sport, so this is a great opportunity for me to get to know some of the teams on a more personal level, and show some love to the whole CHEER community.”