Cheerleading has reached new heights since its introduction to Northern Ireland back in 2008. Northern Ireland has hosted its fifth National Championships and the event attracts more young people to the dynamic and all inclusive team sport each year.
The sport is recognised at National and Junior European level under the guidance of UKCA regional development representative, Karen Graham.
Karen – lead tutor and a judge here at the UKCA – is also head coach and director for the Northern Ireland Allstar cheerleading squad. The squad trains in three disciplines – cheerleading, cheer dance and street cheer – and is made up of cheerleaders from across Northern Ireland who have been selected at annual auditions to represent the country at UK Elite and European championships.
Karen has recently received an invitation from the Gibraltar Cheer Association to host an International Summer Camp. The project is the first of its kind between the two nations and allows Northern Ireland athletes to perform and compete alongside European teams.
The most recent development has been the recognition received from Andrew Lavery from BodyLab N.I. Andrew is recognised for supporting local athletes in various sporting disciplines. As a sports professional and athlete, he understands the demanding skill requirements, dedication and hard work that goes into cheerleading, especially with it reaching this exciting stage in its short time in N.I. He has generously offered his premises for a support base to the Northern Ireland Allstars, who are participating in a sponsored row to Gibraltar.
The 3000k row in July 2014 is to raise funds for the team and head coach to join with the Gibraltar Cheer Association for the International Summer Camp. The Gibraltar local council have awarded funding to make the event a huge success because they recognise that it will be a major development for the sport of cheerleading.
The Allstars are currently working hard to raise contributions for the much needed funds. Friends, family members and clientele of BodyLab N.I gym are all invited to get on board and clock up the miles to help earn pounds for the squad.
To follow their story, visit the Allstars Facebook page.