Cheery times in Tawa

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By JACK FLETCHER

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.

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Photo: BRADEN MCCAUGHEY

The Big Air Fury team gets right into it.

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