A YOUNG cheerleading squad are jumping for joy after being crowned champions in a national competition.
The five-piece from Infinity Cheer, part of a Youth Level 2 stunt group, scooped first place in the Future Cheers’ Heart of England National competition at the LG Arena (NEC) in Birmingham.
It is a massive achievement for the Whittle-le-Woods based team, Sophie Gardner, aged 10, Keira Benneworth, 10, Poppy McGovern, 10, nine-year-old Anya McLoughlin and Lois Barrow, seven. The girls only began training together last July.
Coach Sian Lucas, who trains the girls at Kem Mill Lane, also led the girls to first place in the Jungle Fever competition held in Bolton last November.
Anya’s mum Naomi said: “Sian works so incredibly hard with each and every cheerleader at Infinity Cheer and dedicates seven days a week to perfecting routines: stunt groups, cheer squads and pom and hip hop routines.
“An average competition will see us taking 38 routines to perform in one weekend.
“Sian’s achievements are amazing, she is a dedicated and hard working coach who does her best to push each and every cheerleader to achieve their potential.
“She gives Infinity Cheer a real family feel and all the children enjoy every minute they spend there and want to spend as much time at the cheer house as they possibly can.”
The girls, who ranked number one with a high score of 74.5% in the national competition, are now stepping up their practice ready for their first international competition Future Cheer, which will take place in Bournemouth on July 9.
Qualified teacher Sian, started up Infinity Cheer three-and-a-half years ago as a community group for young girls looking to take up a new hobby.
The group, which started with just 12 cheerleaders, was initially based in a school annexe at Manor Road Primary School.
The squad, now consists of 150 cheerleaders and moved to their current base a year-and-a-half ago.
Sian, who took up cheerleading at 16, said: “I played a lot of sport when I was younger football, netball and bits of dance. I wanted to start up something completely new on my own and for local girls to enjoy being part of.
“We fundraise for all the girls uniforms and partially fund all the competitions so it is affordable for all those who want to take part.”
Alongside Sian there are now nine USA FF qualifed coaches taking the girls through their cheerleading, pom dance and hip hop routines each week.
The team also run sessions for youngsters with special educational needs.
Sian added: “The girls love it, it’s brilliant fun and totally inclusive and we have some really good coaches. To perform the stunts and jumps involved they have to trust each other – its very much about the team and supporting each other and that includes other squads, too.
“They all work very hard and there’s nothing like the excitement and adrenalin the girls gets when they take to the floor.”
Sian said coaches nationally are working together to bring about recognition of cheerleading as a sport.
There are currently 40 youngsters on the waiting list to join Infinity Cheer and Sian’s aim is to have 200 members this year.
The girls will next compete this weekend, Saturday 9 and Sunday April 10 at the Adventure in Atlantis with Future Cheer in Loughborough at Loughborough University.
Sian is now recruiting for new members and anyone interested can visit the website http://infinitycheeruk.co.uk/ for details.