UP cheerleading team on a high

Posted on June 09, 2019

Vandre Prinsloo is utterly focused on keeping Chuma Msindo standing on one foot in the palm of his hand, which is positioned high above his head. As part of the University of Pretoria’s (UP) cheerleading squad, these two skilled athletes are practising the Cupie move in earnest for an upcoming competition.

The team finished second overall in the recent Gauteng Majorette and Cheerleading Association provincial competition in the Tertiary Small Co-ed section and, earlier this year, won a competition in Boksburg.

Prinsloo is the base, Msindo the flyer. For the eight seconds that the move lasts, it is all about trust – more so for Msindo, because she has a fear of heights. This move is truly a case of mind over matter. Yet Msindo would not have it any other way: one of the things that attracted her to cheerleading was the adrenaline of those few seconds.

Flyers are usually, though not always, the slightest members on a cheerleading squad. Msindo weighs about 49kg, but laughs when asked if she goes hungry before a competition to make it easier for the bases. “People will be surprised by how much I actually eat!”

As for Prinsloo, being a base is surprisingly not necessarily about being the strongest on the team. He is quick to point out that physical strength is not a prerogative. “Look at me,” Prinsloo says, “I am one of the smallest guys on our team, and I can do everything and more than the bigger guys. Being a base is 70 percent technique and 30 percent strength.”

Head coach Rindie Prinsloo says that at a typical cheerleading competition, teams perform a two-and-a-half minute routine to music, which includes stunts, pyramids, tosses and tumbling.

“Teams are judged by a panel of cheerleading experts on difficulty and execution,” she explains. “Some of the stunts performed include the tick-tock, liberty, show-n-go, bow and arrows, and so much more. Precision is of utmost importance – a flyer’s leg not being straight at the crucial moment can be the difference between winning and losing.”

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee officially recognised cheerleading as a sport and granted it provisional Olympic status. This means the International Cheer Union is eligible to apply to become part of the Olympics programme, and while cheerleaders may not necessarily be going to the 2020 Games, it does mean that they are a step closer to doing so.


- Author Tuks Sport

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