Cheerleading is a thriving sport, even though it has only recently been declared an official sport at Tuks. Along with the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University and North-West University, the popularity for cheerleading is spreading across the country.
The TuksCheerleading squad currently has a total of 18 members, 15 female and 3 male and is made up of a variation of dancers, acrobats and gymnasts, all of whom add to the uniqueness of the team.
The squad cheers at every big home game that takes place at Tuks, including netball, rugby and football matches. Cheering takes place pre-game and mid-game. There is also the possibility of additional duties if the events coordinator has arranged with the squad beforehand.
Cheering has a marked impact on the atmosphere of a match. “The squad is there is boost team morale of the audience and helps create an enthusiastic vibe for the team playing,” says TuksCheerleading captain Matt van Zyl.
The squad practises twice a week and they run through a routine of exercises that include flexibility and strength training. Van Zyl wants his team to focus mainly on understanding their routine and the physical demands of cheerleading. “A lot of different aspects need to be considered when practising. The routine includes [the] base throwing a lady into the air high enough for her to be able to do a backflip in the air, which of course needs to be practised until [it is] flawless.”
Van Zyl continued, saying, “Our strongest point would have to be all the different types of experience accumulated in the squad and [trying] to incorporate each squad member’s talent, whereas our weakest point would have to be how new we are, so we [are] still trying to find our feet.” The team is managed and organised on a day to day basis by Van Zyl, who works closely with the TuksSport [Communications Officer], Mmane Boikanyo.