Competitive sport and has been for years: Versfeld

Graham Versfeld, of Eclipse Cheerleading, lifts Roberta Noon in Dunedin earlier this week. PHOTO:...
Graham Versfeld, of Eclipse Cheerleading, lifts Roberta Noon in Dunedin earlier this week. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Is cheerleading a sport?

The negatives: pom poms, all teeth and smiles and not a ball in sight.

The positives: running, jumping and the ultimate team sport.

And if break dancing and skateboarding can get near the five Olympic rings then cheerleading is surely in the sporting landscape.

Graham Versfeld, is involved with Eclipse Cheerleading, which has established some cheerleading programmes in Dunedin and is keen to spread the word about the sport.

Already two schools - Otago Girls' High School and Kavanagh College - have pupils involved and he hopes to encourage some tertiary students to join in.

He was at Orientation this week to try to nab some students.

Versfeld said the sport had many advantages and was miles away from what many thought of the sport.

"It's got that stereotype about it - all the pom poms and all the dancing. But it is a competitive sport and has been for years,'' Versfeld said.

"There is lots of tumbling and flips, pyramids, lifting people into the air, doing jumps, dance.

"There is a lot going on.''

Versfeld said the cheerleading scene in New Zealand was growing and there were about 12 competitions a year. It was a real team sport.

"It is more of a team thing than anything else. You can have anywhere from eight people up to 24. You are really relying on each other. It helps breed confidence and is great for fitness.''

Versfeld has a background in gymnastics and went into cheerleading after that.

Routines are judged on various criteria and he said training was busy and fun.

He said the national championships were set for the end of the year and he hoped a team from Dunedin would enter.

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