Ahmad Syafiq Sabri could barely hold in his excitement as he glanced proudly at his victorious team, the Extreme Malaysian All-Boys of the Extreme Malaysian All Stars (EMAS) cheerleading team.
They emerged winners of the Malaysian Cheer Dance Division category at the Cheerleading Association & Register of Malaysia (Charm) Cheerleading Championships (C3).
The third Charm cheerleading championships saw the participation of 36 teams competing in the Malaysian and International divisions at Cineleisure Damansara on Sunday.
Four international teams from Thailand and the Philippines took part, along with many Malaysian teams.
Retaining their title as Malaysian Cheer Dance Division champions was a great honour for Ahmad Syafiq and his all-male team, but performing and having fun is why these boys continuously engage in cheerleading.
“We just like to dance and have fun - and to prove that boys too, can be cheerleaders,” said the 20-year-old student.
“We didn’t expect to defend our title, but we’re glad that we went back to basics and perfected simple movements while still having pizzazz in our performance,” he added.
On winning in an international cheerleading competition for the first time, Marielle Barraza, 15, of the Philippines felt overwhelmed.
“We love taking part in competitions because we get to discover new things, especially this competition because we got to see teams from different countries perform and notice the differences,” said the captain of Partner Stunt Team 1, whose team took home the first prize in the International All-Girl group stunt division.
There were four other categories in the one-day competition - Cheer Dance team A from the Philippines took home the first prize in the International Cheer Dance Division, while team Calyx of SMJK Katholik won in the Malaysian all-girl group stunt division and Rebels team B won in both the Malaysian Co-ed Group Stunt division and the International Co-ed group Stunt division, as their marks were higher than the international teams in the division.
“It feels amazing to beat even the international teams, because we felt we didn’t have enough time to prepare for the competition,” said Rebels captain Lee Wai Min, 20.
International Cheer Union director of logistics Sarah Richetti, 29, who acted as a judge, said she was excited about the growth of cheerleading in Malaysia.
“Safety is still a number one priority and teams must always make sure that they execute stunts in the utmost safety,” she added.
The mall was packed with parents and friends of the participants, while curious onlookers stopped to watch the impressive performances by the cheerleaders.
During short breaks, the audience were entertained with various performances, most notably by Malaysian Idol season 1 runner-up Dina, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) Season 2 winner Cecilia Yong and top 20 finalist of SYTYCD season 2 Billie Yong.
Azizi or One in a Million fame and the current finalists of One in a Million ‘09 performed as well.
One major highlight of the competition was an energetic performance by Rainbows Cheerleading Squad, an all-boys Thai team.