Three things you never knew about cheerleading

Cheerleaders. Chances are, this word instantly conjures up one of many representations you’ve seen on TV. Forget all that. Cheerleading is an intense, athletic and fun sport practiced across the globe by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Here are some things you might not know about cheerleading.

Cheer isn’t just an American thing

The USA does boast the largest number of cheerleaders, with 1.5 million participants, it’s true. But over recent decades cheer has spread worldwide, with more than 100 000 participants in countries including China, Finland, Colombia, and right here in Australia.

ESPN’s first global broadcast of cheering in 1997 and the 2000 cult classic movie, Bring It On taking the world by storm a few years later, guaranteed there was no stopping this high energy pastime from spreading to countries far and wide.

Cheer spans a whole range of different styles

Pom poms and yelling are what most think of when cheerleading is mentioned, and it’s definitely one aspect of the sport, but it’s also so much more than that. Here at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Uni Cheer and Dance (MUCD) have expanded their repertoire to include Cheerleading, Pom, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Lyrical.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another activity that so perfectly combines multiple dance styles, high-intensity gymnastics, and a huge dash of positivity.

Cheerleading started as a bit of a boy’s club

Think the first cheerleaders were women? Think again. Organised cheerleading began as a male-only activity in 1898 at the University of Minnesota in the USA.

It wasn’t until 1923 that women were first allowed to join in, and female cheerleaders remained a rarity up to World War 2. Things have changed a lot since those early years, with women making up the biggest representation in the sport – but cheerleaders are a friendly bunch, and these days everybody’s welcome!

Inspired to get involved in cheerleading? MUCD accept members at every level from beginner to advanced and would love to welcome new members.

Find out more about cheerleading at UniMelb

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