Cheerleaders take central stage at Goa soccer tourneys

Panaji : Football tournaments in Goa villages will now have cheerleaders to grab the crowd`s attention.

"There are group of youngsters, who earn money by acting as cheerleaders in various tournaments. This trend is catching up in Goa also," Jose Gomes, Secretary, All India Cheerleading Federation (AICF) told to reporters.

Gomes, however clarified that the cheerleaders in these tournaments would not be scantily-clothed as in IPL.

"This would be very decent," said Gomes, adding, "Cheerleading is now a sport, which involves aerobics, pyramids and other physical exercises. It`s not a vulgar form of art.

"It`s a decent sport and that`s why even parents are not against sending their kids for this."

Gomes also said the notion that cheerleaders are vulgar is absolutely wrong.

"There is a strict dress-code prescribed by the federation. There is no question of exposure. And a child as young as 12-year-old can also be a part of the cheerleading team," AICF secretary said.

A minimum four youngsters are needed to form a cheerleading team.

"We held a national cheerleading competition in Goa which was won by a team from Maharashtra," Janardan Bhandari, executive member of AICF, said.

Bhandari said that there are lot of youngsters who earn their pocket money by acting as cheerleaders . The federation now intends to approach all physical education teachers seeking their help to enrol students into cheerleading.

Interestingly, birth of All India Cheerleading Federation took place in Goa and Congress party`s state chief Subhash Shirodkar is its President.

"Shirodkar has given personal attention to this sport," Bhandari, a Congress activist said.

He also added that the "organisers for one-day cricket match between India and Australia, which is scheduled in Goa on Sunday, wanted to call Goan cheerleaders but things somehow did not materialise."

The federation has opened its branches in Goa, Gujarat, Manipur, Maharashtra, Punjab, while formation of state level cheerleading associations in Chandigarh and Karnataka is on the cards.