2 and a half minutes and 24 women have worked their way to the top spot.
By Millie Horne
Lets talk about our English team that are world champions. English team that are world champions you say? Who? Team England Cheer and if you didn’t know. You are about to know.
Team England All Girl Elite team beat 13 other nations to claim their world title. They compete at ESPN World Wide of Sport complex in Florida and, are broadcast out live on ESPN and across multiple internet platforms. Yes, it is a sport, classed as a sport, run as a sport and is a sport period.
So why does nobody know about this? Surely if it’s a sport where we have our British teams storming the world stage, it should be a talking point? Everyone should know about the world of All Star Cheerleading and how its no longer just an American dominated spectacle.
In April every year, the best cheerleading teams in the world head out to Orlando in Florida, to take on the world stage. Countries enter the International Cheer Union (ICU) competition and stunt, tumble, jump and dance their hearts out to be crowned the world champions.
All star cheerleading is a whole other world you can only properly understand if you’re a part of, but I’m going to try and bring you into it.
From the outside it looks like a world full of hairspray fumes, sparkly uniforms, huge bows surrounded by enough backcombed hair to knock you out, endless amounts of fake tan and makeup. You’re probably sat there thinking, of course this isn’t a sport. It’s just a bunch of girls prancing around. Well, you’d be wrong on every account.
Male cheerleaders are in high demand. In many cheerleading divisions, having boys on the team is extremely popular.
Sam Thompson is a male cheerleader who wanted to represent his country in a sport he loves, just as any athlete would. He was on Team England co-ed last year and helped them secure the silver medal. Sam said “10 years ago being a male cheerleader was hard, but in this era I think it’s a lot easier as there are so many more males doing it. The world has opened its eyes to how athletic you have to be, but also how sick it is to flip and throw people about.”
It’s great to see that people are becoming more and more excepting of each aspect of the sport. However, it’s not even close to being as respected as the more common sports.
The battle to get cheerleading recognised as a sport by a small group is a big enough battle alone, and one that elite athletes have to battle every day. Getting it recognised as a sport across the whole of the UK is even harder. But you have to ask yourself, if we are excelling in this over other ‘actual sports’ such as football, why isn’t it being supported? If England won the world cup, it would be celebrated widely. England have won the cheerleading world championships, but the only buzz about it is within the cheerleading community.
Laura Pittaway, team England coach would love to see it recognised as a world class sport just as much as the next cheerleader. She says “Oh my gosh how amazing would that be? My only concern is that with it being predominately female sport, we will face all of the same struggles that women’s football, rugby and cricket etc face. The public interest, crowd attendance and also TV/radio coverage for women’s sports always suffers against that of men’s, of which we know it shouldn’t. But if we manage to achieve the same level of respect for female sports to men’s then I think it can certainly stand its own.”
Both teams are made up of the best athletes from around the country, all from various teams. They attend try outs and go through a selection process.
Bryony O’Dowda who was part of the All Girl team that made history by being the first ever English Team to win the world championships. She talked about her selection process: “We had to submit a video showing stunting within a group and our individual tumbling skills. We then got selected for the trial day. This was half a day observing us – tumbling and stunting. Then half way through the day they announced the team. If you made the team you trained for the other half of the day”.
Having won in 2017, the all-girl team have now advanced to a higher division. It’s world champ vs word champ. They are taking this season out to learn the new skills that they need to triumph in this division, and hopefully go for gold again.
It will be interesting to see what both teams bring to the world stage in these following years. Will the pressure of being of being on the top spot get to them? Only time will tell.