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By KESSHMITA PARANJOTHI
alltherage@thestar.com.my

Nur Fatihah Abu Hassan
Age: 16
Team Name: Xtreme
School: Sri KDU International School

DON’T let Fatihah Hassan’s age fool you. The capable 16-year-old may be young, but she recently captained her team, Xtreme, to victory at the Asia Cheerleading Invitational Championship (ACIC) 2015 in Singapore, in the the Senior All Girl Level 3 category. This was no easy feat, especially considering the youngest member of the team is only 12! Now that she’s got that under her belt, Fatihah is determined to keep pursuing cheerleading, even after she graduates high school.

Team captain Fatihah Hassan, 16, finds it a little stressful juggling being a Year 10 student and a cheerleader and says that Sundays are her only day off yet doesn't mind the sacrifice for the love of the sport. Photo by Azlina bt Abdullah / The Star

Team captain Fatihah Hassan, 16, finds it a little stressful juggling being a Year 10 student and a cheerleader and says that Sundays are her only day off yet doesn’t mind the sacrifice for the love of the sport. Photo by Azlina bt Abdullah / The Star

How many members do you have on your team this year?

We started off with an astounding 19 members this year, thinking that we would have to make some of them reserves, but as time went by, more and more people started quitting due to their tight schedules and we were left with only 13 members for ACIC.

How do you guys come up with your stunts and routines?

Our coach is mainly the one who choreographs our routines, but the members always pitch in with creative ideas on how to make our performance more appealing and interesting. Apart from that, our coach also decides on the stunts, according to what we are capable of doing.

Who decides on the songs you incorporate into your routines?

When it comes to song choice, our coach doesn’t exactly have the most normal taste in music, so our mixes tend to have a couple of odd songs here and there. But for the most part, our members suggest songs and we all vote for our favourites.

How do you balance between studying and cheer practice?

Honestly, apart from homework and tuition, I don’t do much revision at home. But by paying full attention in class, I manage to keep up with school while still attending practices and cheering three times a week.

What is your daily routine like?

Being a Year 10 student, cheer has made school life a little more stressful than usual. Because we have practices every alternate day, and I have to stay back at school for drama rehearsals and extra classes, my days usually start with me waking up at 6:30am, staying at school until 6:15pm, and sleeping late at night. The only day where I’m fully free is Sunday, because my add math tuition falls on Saturday mornings.

Who/what is your biggest pillar of strength in helping you stay focused on the sport?
The team as a whole never stops motivating me to continue with this sport. Xtreme is an extremely fun and supportive team. We never fail to lend each other a helping hand. Without them, I wouldn’t have anything to look forward to after a gloomy day at school! I would say that the joy they bring me is the biggest pillar of strength to me.

What advice would you give to students who aspire to pick up this sport?

Cheerleading takes a LOT of commitment. If you don’t have the time and the passion, reconsider joining because this is not an easy sport, and it will definitely take more effort than you expect. It is also a team sport, so make sure that you have a clear schedule because it is not easy putting up with members who come in and out of practices as they like.

Catch Fatihah’s team in action at CHEER 2015 on Aug 15 at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre! Admission is free.

For more information on CHEER 2015, click here.

Celebrity cheerleaders

Blake Lively

Blake Lively

The Gossip Girl star was once a cheerleader back in her high school days at Burbank High School. The talented beauty was also class president and a member of her school choir!

Did you know?

An oendan is the Japanese equivalent of a cheerleading team at sports games, but focuses more on making noises with props like taiko drums, as well as blowing horns and waving flags and banners.

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