THE adrenaline that coursed through CHEER 2014 at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil, this past weekend was explosive! Whoops, screams, cheers, and the unmistakable blare of vuvuzelas filled the air at every opportunity. The revelry only paused for teams to roll out their routines.
This merry-making is simply part and parcel of the country’s premier inter-school cheerleading competition, where the buzz is always addictive for cheerleaders and spectators alike.
“This is what we train all year for!” said Rachel Lu, 17, captain of the Cyrens from Sri Kuala Lumpur. The preparation clearly paid off, as invariably, the strong-voiced audience witnessed a familiar sight – Sri Kuala Lumpur continuing their winning streak with its team Cyrens bagging the All-Girls category for the fifth time in a row, matching all-time record holder SMK Seri Bintang Selatan’s Shirtliff!
Not to be outdone, Rayvens, their All-Girls Junior counterpart, also retained their trophy in that category. The Co-Ed category was won by the Zodiacs from SMK Kepong, beating last year’s winner the Mickeymitez from SMK Damansara Jaya.
But it wasn’t all about the cheerleaders either – when they strode into the arena to hit the blue mat, their supporters were also out in full force, screaming their lungs out, coming fully prepared with banners, flags and even mascots. This was sonic mayhem of an extraordinary kind.
In the spirit of true sportsmanship, though, the supporters did not only cheer for their own teams. Students from Sri Kuala Lumpur, for example, danced along and clapped to other teams’ routines, too.
If the supporters were louder this year, then the teams were crazier! The stunts were utterly impressive, with the 35 teams displaying more creativity than ever. You could practically hear the “oohs” and “aahs” above the din of the music.
CHEER 2014 was certainly about turning up the wick, with all the teams earnestly trying to outdo one another. “They’ve upped their game this year in terms of creativity,” said Beverley Hon, Cheerleading Association and Register of Malaysia (CHARM) president and Asian Cheer Union secretary-general.
However, Hon, who is also the head judge of CHEER 2014, noted that some teams had points unnecassarily knocked off, a situation easily avoided had they observed the rules more closely, saying: “Many deductions (of points) were for illegal stunts and skirt lengths.”
But it was still a duel to the end for the aspiring teams. Some wobbled, and some had their pyramids completely collapse, but every single one of their team members ran offstage waving and smiling enthusiastically.
Backstage, however, was a maelstrom of emotions. Some team mates hugged each other, while others cried as their nerves finally got the better of them. The stakes are always high, with all the preparation easily coming to nought over a single weekend.
Hence, it was amazing to see how these teenagers could compose themselves and greet their supporters with wide smiles having cried buckets backstage moments before. And that’s exactly what has come to define CHEER – grit and determination.
U Mobile’s chief marketing director, Jasmine Lee, taken in by the spectacle of perseverance, lauded the cheerleaders for their ability to “surpass the pain barrier, and grin and bear it.”
“CHEER teaches teenagers teamwork and self-motivation,” she added. “This is important when you get into the real world.”
“What CHEER encapsulates fits into the U Mobile ethics of fun, passion, teamwork and innovation,” Lee said, adding with a laugh, “I love the energy here. I wish I could bottle it and take it with me!”
Datuk Siti Nurhaliza also made an appearance at CHEER as the face of SimplySiti, her cosmetics line. “I managed to catch some amazing performances,” she said in a speech to the packed crowd. “If I was 20 years younger, I would have joined you guys in your performances!”
“Watching CHEER 2014 has given me the idea to pick the best teams to perform at my upcoming concert,” she added, to wild cheers from the crowd. Aren’t we all headed for Siti’s upcoming concerts, then? You betcha!
For more in-depth stories on CHEER 2014, check out R.AGE next week!
* CHEER 2014 is organised by R.AGE and co-sponsored by SimplySiti and U Mobile. Red FM is the official radio station.