Durham cheerleaders heading to World Championships
A group of young cheerleaders from Durham will be heading to Florida next week to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions in their sport.
The Durham City Allstars Under 16 Level 3 ‘Venom’ squad are one of 31 teams competing in their category (and only one of three teams from the UK) at the International All Star Federation (IASF) Worlds.
The co-ed team of 17 girls and one boy have only had one month to prepare themselves to compete on the world stage after unexpectedly securing a place at the JAMfest Cheer and Dance Northern Jam competition in Blackpool last month.
Since then, the squad, parents and coaches have been tirelessly fundraising to ensure they are booked on the flight out to Florida, Orlando.
Bag packing, sponsored walks, football scratch cards, raffles, cake sales and the generosity of friends, family, businesses and the local community have clubbed together to raise enough funds for them to head stateside.
The squad will fly out next Tuesday and will train at the Top Gun Cheerleading and Dance training centre – home of the 15-time world champion Top Gun All Stars. They’ll compete on Thursday (27 April) in the IASF Worlds Division with 12 teams progressing through to the finals the following day.
The competition is being held at the Walt Disney World Resort between 26-30 April and afterwards, the team will spend some downtime at the parks before heading back home.
The youngsters aged 11-16, are part of Durham City Gymnastics Club based in Sherburn Village, County Durham. The club is already a hotbed for young talent and has national and international athletes competing in tumbling and cheerleading.
The Allstars ‘Venom’ team will hope to impress international judges while performing a two-and-a-half-minute routine involving stunts or lifts, tumbles, jumps, pyramids combined with athletic dance.
Kim Clark, Head Cheerleading Coach at Durham City Gymnastics Club, said: “It’s been a busy few weeks preparing the squad and getting our routine perfected but we are ready and we’re going out there to compete against the best in the world.
“Six weeks ago, we didn’t even know we were going so credit to the team, coaches and all the parents for their efforts and commitment. Everyone has been so generous and we’ve raised thousands through fundraising which has helped to make their dreams come true.
“We performed our last routine at the weekend as a full squad as some of the girls have already started to travel over with family and we’ll meet them over there. This is a trip of a lifetime for them and we’re hoping to make lots of memories and of course proud to represent the club, the North East and the UK. I’m immensely proud of them all.”
The final schedule still hasn’t been published but there will be three teams from the UK (including DCA Venom), 15 teams from the USA, 3 teams from Japan including the World Champions, 3 teams from Germany and 7 teams from Canada.
Cheerleading is a very competitive, high performing sport which is fast becoming more and more popular within the UK. Almost 90,000 athletes compete at regional and national level. Cheerleading classes are held at the club six days per week and classes are available for children as young as three years old.
Durham City Gymnastics Club was set up by Glen Wharton in 2016 and moved into the former council sports centre in Sherburn Village. The club offers tumbling, cheerleading and gymnastics classes to children of all ages and abilities.