Cheery times in Tawa
In the heart of rugby-mad Tawa, a committed community of cheerleaders is building their sport’s reputation through competition and determination.
Big Air gym hosted teams from around the region on June 7 in the first of a series of competitions organised by New Zealand Cheer Union to promote the sport and test competitors’ agility and teamwork.
Gym director William Davenport said the first event of the year enabled teams to practise their routines and receive criti- cism from experienced observers.
The competition was a good chance for them to get a performance on the floor in front of judges
‘‘Our competitors range from 7 to 25, with teams in junior and senior divisions,’’ he said.
Fourteen teams performed high-flying moves to impress the judging panel, with the added pressure of 500 friends and family looking on, shrieking with excitement at every flip and tumble.
Cheerleading judge Josh Duncan was a cheerleader for six years before an injury forced him off the spring-loaded floor and into the judge’s seat.
‘‘It’s more athletic than most sports out there and it is not known enough in New Zealand.
‘‘That’s what the Cheer Union is trying to promote to people throughout the country and change people’s perception.’’
Asked what would make the sport more successful in New Zealand, Duncan said people needed to start taking it seriously.
‘‘The Bring it On movies have really degraded it and made it look like something that it’s not. I’ve been playing rugby since I was a kid and this is way more demanding than being a prop or a winger.’’
Big Air Fury team member Josh Green, 23, said he agreed cheerleading could be tougher than people might realise.
‘‘I can play a whole game and I’m sweet, but two and a half minutes out there and knackered,’’ he said.
The next Cheer Union event is Ministry of Cheer, at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, on August 16.
The Big Air Fury team gets right into it.