THE cheerleading teams have been training all year. Countless hours spent memorising routines, practising stunts and even battling injuries, all to compete in the biggest cheerleading event of the year – CHEER 2015. This Saturday, 41 teams from across the country will pit their skills against each other on the blue mat, spurred on by 10,000 spectators at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre. Different moves, different cheers, but only one goal – to emerge CHEER champions. “The competition is getting stronger, but that’s what makes it exciting!” said Rayvens captain Lee Cher-Maine, 15, whose team has won three times in the Junior Division. “But of course we’re still planning to win!” Teams train almost a year in advance, with some starting as early as two weeks after CHEER 2014. “We really want to win. The money will help pay for better facilities and our coach’s fees,” said Titans captain Yeong Gwyneth, from SMK Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh. Of course, the sheer exhilaration of being named the top secondary school cheerleading team in the country helps with motivation as well. CHEER is so important to the cheerleaders, some of them even sign up for other competitions to warm-up for the CHEER Finals. “We competed in Singapore to gauge our performance levels, and then upgraded our stunts for CHEER 2015,” said Zelts captain Zoe Ng, 16. “We weren’t ready last year but we’ve been training since December to participate. CHEER is a huge competition with strong teams, so we’ve been working extra hard to meet that standard.”Tough stuff With the stakes so high, the cheerleaders aren’t about to let anything get in their way – not even injuries. Yeong hurt her back a few weeks ago, but instead of pulling out, she went for acupuncture and carried on cheering. “Cheerleading is my life!” she said. “I’m not just going to give up, especially with CHEER around the corner.” “We’ve gone through blood, sweat and tears, training for countless hours to win in competition,” said Chong Zhen Wei, captain of Zodiac Co-Ed, CHEER 2014 Co-Ed Division champions. “But no matter how long our practice sessions are, how badly we injure our ankles, wrists or worse; or how tiring learning a new routine is, we love every minute of it.” Genevieve Liew, 17, captain of five-time CHEER champions the Cyrens, also gave some insight into what gives her team that X-factor: “Even injuries don’t hold them back. It makes them fight even harder, because they don’t want their efforts to go to waste.” As she spoke to us, we could see her teammate Caitlyn Tania Dean, 15, in the background, practising with a brace around her neck. “A flyer fell on her and now she can’t move her neck,” said Liew. “But she’s a fighter. She’ll be better soon and we’ll all be at CHEER together.” To help prepare the teams for the big day, CHEER organised another round of its annual CHEER Clinics, with the latest one held last week at Dewan D’Kelana, Petaling Jaya. Participants were able to learn from the best – Cheerleading Association and Register of Malaysia president Beverly Hon; Philippines Cheerleading Association (PCA) president Eduardo Jr David; Ruf Rosario, also a member of PCA; and Cheerleading Association (Singapore) president Damien Ng. New at CHEER 2015 The CHEER Finals this year will have a brand new one-day format, which means teams will only have one chance to nail their routines. Expect plenty of tension and excitement. On top of that, there will also be a live
social video broadcast on the CHEER website (rage.com.my/CHEER), so spectators get to watch instant replays of all the performances, comment on them and immediately share them on social media! CHEER 2015: We’re taking things to new heights, and we’re not just talking about the stunts.