Changing Opinions - The London Cheerleaders

Changing Opinions

Over the last year and a half I have come to realise that a large part of my job is to change opinions about cheerleaders. I’ve heard in person and over email that cheerleading is perceived as very American - just dancing girls and not family friendly. It has now become a goal of mine to change these perceptions and get people to see the enormous value of effective use of cheerleaders at sports games across the spectrum.

Yes, cheerleading originated in the US (and originally it was all men!) but it is seen in South African rugby, Indian 20/20 cricket, New Zealand and Australian rugby league; it’s seen across Eastern Europe for both basketball and football and across a huge number of beach sports throughout Europe. Each of these sports see the value of have cheerleaders at their games, it makes the games inclusive, building a fanbase of all ages and sexes. It gives a club more engagement opportunities before the game, and sponsors a way to get their brand more exposure. And it’s fun and exciting!

Look at the States. They pack out stadiums of 80,000 on a weekly basis due to the entertainment provided in addition to the games themselves - not just cheerleaders but dance groups, bands, singers, acrobats all on show at games to keep people entertained - how can you go wrong with that?

I find myself repeating again and again, “All the cheerleaders in our team are young women 20+, professionals either in dance or other careers and they have worked from the age of 3 to get where they are today in regards to their dance ability. They are not ‘dancing girls’”. I spend an evening a week training with these women, and they are athletes. Being in a room with 20 cheerleaders doing a kick line is empowering, the room shakes with the power they create. Dancing in sync with 8 others on a pitch in front of thousands of people is electrifying. They love what they do and want to share their skill, and people love watching!

We work with Northants Cricket Club, and at these events the cheerleaders engage with fans before and during the game. They have a small stage under the scoreboard where they perform at every 6 and 4 and are always surrounded by children wanting to join in. The kids have fun learning the moves from the cheerleaders; they also teach the cheerleaders their own chants they then perform with the pom poms. We have had both young girls and boys come up to the cheerleaders to say “I love you” “you're my favourite” and “I'm going to become a cheerleader like you!” Hearing these words warms my heart, and I hope interaction with the cheerleaders is a catalyst for getting young girls active and inspired to dance.

I believe every football, rugby, cricket, basketball club in the UK should have amazing cheerleaders and it is my mission to make that a reality.

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