What family support means to Malaysia's young cheerleaders


Photos By FAIHAN GHANI

TMYAG cheerleader Chew Xiao Wei with her mother Christina Chee.

For mum Christina Chee, cheerleading has been “very meaningful” as it has helped her two shy teenage daughters come out of their shell.

Chee’s younger daughter, Chew Xiao Wei, 12 is part of the national team’s youth division, Team Malaysia Youth All Girls (TMYAG), who recently competed in Orlando, Florida in the United States, winning the gold in the International Cheerleading Cup 2024 (April 28 - 29) and the bronze in the ICU World Cheerleading Championship 2024 (April 24 - 26).

“Both my girls are introverts and didn’t mix around much. But when they took up cheerleading in 2022, they started to blossom. They became more communicative and made many friends. They also learnt to interact and to work as a team with other cheerleaders,” says Chee.

The girls trained four times per week, and training usually took place after school hours, at night. Besides that, they had tumbling classes once a week. They were also learning gymnastics previously.

It might seem like a lot for a teenager to handle – school, homework, tuition, cheerleading training, chores, etc – but the girls say it hasn't been an issue for them.

“We usually finish our homework in the afternoon after school, and our training is at night,” reveals Xiao Faye.

“Our only issue was that we had to reduce our other activities during the pre-competition period because our coaches didn’t want us to overexert and injure ourselves,” says Xiao Wei.

The cheerleaders' parents are their biggest supporters. One of the parents showing the TMYAG Supporters' T-shirt. Photo: The Star/Ming TeohThe cheerleaders' parents are their biggest supporters. One of the parents showing the TMYAG Supporters' T-shirt. Photo: The Star/Ming Teoh

The girls admit that even though they also get less sleep, that hasn't affected them too much.

“We usually shower and sleep after we return from training,” they say in unison.

Both girls concur that cheerleading is fun, has taught them a lot about teamwork and unity, and enabled them to make many good friends.

“I’ve learnt a lot about teamwork and to trust my teammates,” says Xiao Wei, who is a flyer for TMYAG.

“It has taught me how to work with others and helped me to improve my coordination skills,” adds Xiao Faye.

Chee says that as parents, both she and her husband, Chew Chong Eu, are glad to be there for their children.

“We have supported them in every way, fetching them back and forth for training four plus times a week, ensured their meal intake is balanced, and sometimes, we’ve had to reduce their other activities to make sure they get enough rest,” she says.

Efficient and effective schedule

Cheerleader Alaina Sara (centre) with parents Kamarul Azman (left) and Farah Amer.Cheerleader Alaina Sara (centre) with parents Kamarul Azman (left) and Farah Amer.

Farah Amer, mother of cheerleader Alaina Sara Kamarul Azman, 12, says it’s very important for a cheerleader to have a proper schedule.

“An efficient and effective schedule will not just ensure she can balance her studies, homework, training, performance and tuition – but it’s also good for her personal development, so that she can learn to be disciplined,” says Farah.

Being the parent of a cheerleader involves a great deal of commitment and dedication, she adds.

“The cheerleaders trained four times per week - sometimes more - at night from 7pm to 10pm, during the pre-competition period.

“For some parents, the training location isn’t near their home, so it means driving long distances.

“As parents, we’ve to make sure that our children get home promptly after their training so that they can have enough rest.”

“We also need to help our children get used to the routine so that their body doesn’t go through trauma/shock from the rigorous training and schedule because they’re still young,” she says.

Farah adds that she’s proud of her daughter and her achievements.

“She started when she was nine and she’s now 12 and with the national team (TMYAG).

“It’s her first time with the national cheerleading team, but not her first international competition as she has been in other international competitions for gymnastics in Bangkok, Thailand, and Singapore. But she has decided to focus on cheerleading,” she reveals.

Follow your dream

Cheerleader Zara Eshal Aiman with her mother Datin Seri Ezza Mustapha.Cheerleader Zara Eshal Aiman with her mother Datin Seri Ezza Mustapha.Datin Seri Ezza Mustapha, mother of cheerleader Zara Eshal Aiman, 13, is thrilled to see her daughter follow in her footsteps as she was a cheerleader during her school days too.

“I’m glad she has the opportunity to go through this experience and to participate in cheerleading, so that she can understand what it means to work as a team in a group.”

Ezza shares her daughter’s response when asked if she wanted to try cheerleading.

“She told me she loves being around her teammates, and that she has made a lot of new friends because of cheerleading.

“As her mother, I’m very proud of her. I always support her in whatever she wants to do. More than her mum, I’m also her best friend. When she’s down, she always comes to me and asks for a pep talk.

“It’s important that as parents, we give our full support if we want to see our children succeed. And it’s important to let our children follow their dreams,” she says.

“We need to help our children create a schedule to balance their time between cheerleading, education, and the rest of their life. My daughter will share what she needs to do and also what she wants/hopes to do and I usually help her plan her weekly schedule,” she adds.

"Balance is important so that she doesn’t get burnt out, for example, on days that she has training, she won’t have tuition, and vice versa.”


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