PETALING JAYA: Although their lives branching out into different paths, the members of the cheerleading squad to win the first-ever CHEER competition in 2000 remained good friends.
The former cheerleading champs, now 34, have been friends long before they founded the team in 1998 when they were 15.
Two years later, the “Shirtliff” team from Bukit Bintang Girls’ School (BBGS) clinched the top spot at Malaysia’s inaugural premier inter-school cheerleading competition.
Recently, former team captain Izrin Ismail, who is the founder of fashion label Innai Red, brought four of the cheerleaders back for a photoshoot with The Star.
Describing the win as one of her “best moments” in life, Nor Azura Abd Aziz, who works in a bank, said being in the team strengthened the bond she shared with her friends.
“There is a special bond there because we’ve been in a team together. We learnt the value of teamwork at a young age.
“Despite almost giving up at times, we worked hard and made sacrifices for the team.
“I think those are the fundamentals of the bond and friendship we now share,” said the mother of two.
Nor Azura said she looked forward to attending the birthday parties of her friends’ children, as it would be like having a mini reunion with her former team members.
“Things have changed a lot in these past 17 years. We have other commitments and we have our own families now.
“But somehow, the memories of being in a cheerleading squad really help us bond.
“When we met for the photoshoot with The Star recently, we forgot that we were in for an interview. Two hours passed by with just us catching up with each other,” she related.
For Zafira Ismail, when the former team members get together, it felt as if time has stood still.
She added that the skills she acquired from her cheerleading years helped shape her leadership style as the chief executive officer of her advertising company.
“My team treated each other like family. It’s a practice I carry on until today.
“I lead my staff by working together with them as a team to get things done.
“There is no hierarchy in my company. That’s how we get to know each other and make work more fun,” Zafira explained.
Account manager Sharifah Haizura said team spirit is ingrained in BBGS girls.
“If you talk to any BBGS girl, you’d find the team spirit lives in all of us.
“If anyone organises group outings or a reunion, we are always up for it,” said the mother of two.
Consultant Ezrin Zainuddin said she keeps in touch with her former team members through social media like Instagram and Facebook.
Ezrin, who is married with a two-year-old son, said cheerleading has helped her harness her creative side.
“Cheerleading is a sport where you can create something from scratch.
“It’s not easy in the real world, you have to be creative in order to stand out,” she said.