Some young people who will be participating in Government’s 2012 National Summer Camp Programme may get exposure to the sport of cheerleading and cheer-dance.

Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has encouraged the Barbados Cheerleading Federation to partner with his Ministry to further develop the discipline and assist in incorporating it into the summer camp programme.

Mr. Lashley made the comments yesterday during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Cheerleading and Cheer-Dance National Championships at the Wildey Gymnasium.

He told his audience he was very excited about its development here and promised to facilitate it. "The growth of cheerleading and cheer-dance in our schools and its introduction at the community level also provides a positive option for our youth, who may otherwise utilise their time for the undesirable," he said.

The Minister noted that despite cheerleading being a relatively young sport, six primary and six secondary schools, two post-secondary institutions and the National Sports Council were involved in its development.

"I am advised that some of the major challenges that have slowed the growth of this sport locally have been the lack of qualified coaches and the concern of parents and teachers about the safety of their children," he stated.

Mr. Lashley stressed that the efforts of the Federation to eliminate these difficulties through the provision of training and the accreditation of coaches must be applauded, as they had contributed to its advancement.

He also praised the sponsors of the championships, saying they had obviously recognised the growing popularity of cheerleading worldwide and its immense potential for enhancing the sports tourism product and bringing visitors to the island.

"The fact that you have invested at this stage is a clear indication that you have embraced the rudiments for building a successful sports industry. In this regard, your actions dovetail with the Ministry’s plans for developing such an industry and hence, I commend you for your efforts," Mr. Lashley said.

Cheerleading started out as a sport that utilised routines comprising elements of gymnastics, jumps, tumbling, stunting, dance and cheers to motivate spectators to cheer on sports teams at events.?? However, it has evolved to exist as an independent sport and is currently under review for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics Games.

Cheerleading originated in the United States and boasts an estimated 1.5 million participants across the globe.


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