A Confucius Vietnam is embracing cheerleading as schools and universities nationwide see their most acrobatic beauties doing stunts in style at sport events or during cheerleading contests themselves.
Students of Foreign Trade University are training on hard-surface yard of Tan Binh Stadium Photo: Tuoi Tre
That very American activity with its signature pompoms, tumbling and of course cheering is no more an alien concept in Vietnam as the ‘sport’ has become more and more popular through Hollywood teen movies like Bring It On or High School Musicals.
In fact, it was not until less than 10 years ago that a tiny fraction of the Vietnamese youths came to know what cheerleading really entailed.
The year 2010 can be considered the first milestone in the Vietnamese cheerleading history, when cheerleading was, for the first time, included in U-league, the national varsity contest for university students.
Magnificent waves of skilful cheerleaders in fancy clothes tumbling, jumping, and dancing to highly stimulating music managed to grab attention at the Tan Binh Stadium recently. It is a clear sign cheerleading would become a popular and attractive activity to Vietnamese youths in the near future.
Nguyen Ha Mi, a fourth-year student at the Foreign Trade University and also member of this school’s cheerleading team said “This activity requires great teamwork. Mutual trust is the most important factor. If you don’t trust yourselves or your teammates, you can never form the human pyramid”.
"The acts must be stimulating, young and fresh. And the stunts are the spirit that brings motivation to the sports team that you cheer for”
However, as cheerleading in Vietnam is still in its infancy, those interested in this encounter great difficulties and shortfalls.
Brand new sport
The cheerleading teams participating in U-league shared that they first pursued cheerleading with many no’s: no coach, no expert, no music mixer and no practice room.
However, there is a yes: their love.
Nguyen Le Thanh Long, a head cheerleader at HCMC University of Pedagogy told Tuoi Tre his team had to learn from videos on Youtube and tried to imitate them.
Long’s squad can now form a firm human pyramid.
During a morning practice session in cheerleading on January 8, a member at Hong Bang University had to leave due to injury caused by a teammate’s inaccurate landing, and 20 minutes later, two others left for similar reasons.
Another difficulty is the availability of practice places. The Hanoi’s Foreign Trade University’s team had to practice on their concrete schoolyard before competition, and most suffered scratches and minor injuries all over due to the lack of proper mats.
The obstacles, nevertheless, did not lower the Vietnamese spirit and passion for this lively sport.
In the cheerleading competition on the 8th and 9th last week, four teams from Da Nang’s Duc Tri College, HCMC’s University of Pedagogy, Hanoi’s Foreign Trade University and Hong Bang University presented to spectators in Tan Binh Stadium spectacular performances, energetic dances, skillful moves, lively cheers, stunts, tumbling, synchronization, creativity, and showmanship.
The competition is judged more professional and high-quality than any other previous cheerleading contests in HCMC.
Cheerleading originated in the United States, particularly from Princeton University, with approximately 1.5 million participants and the number has started to grow globally.
Cheerleading began as a student directed the crowds to yell a certain phrase to cheer for their home team, but gradually developed into our modern cheerleading in 1980s incorporating difficult stunt sequences and gymnastics.