Parents who cheer the cheerleaders. How we’re all caught up in the sport of the future.

It takes a special woman to get away with wearing a huge pink hair bow.

If the lady in question is, shall we say, of an age, then it’s an even greater challenge.

Our compere at the World Cup Cheer tournament cared nought about such observations.

She was the happiest hostess I’ve seen in many a day. Or, more to the point, heard.

No-one else got near that microphone. Mother Pink Bow was everything cheerleading is. Loud, colourful, and vibrant.

Her helpers had them too. More pink bows than Mardi Gras.

Until recently, I didn’t even know cheerleading was a sport. Sure, I’d seen colourful routines at half time in the footy. But this is something else.

My first taste of the cheer world came through Hollywood. If you’re the mum or dad of a dancing teenage girl, you’ve seen one of the ‘Bring it On’ movies.

The franchise has spawned flick after flick. I think they’re up to number nine. And I’ve sat through every single one. Several times over.

For those who prefer Clint Eastwood on the big screen, let me explain. The films are about high school cheerleaders. Usually from a disadvantaged school, on the wrong side of town.

After some early cat fighting, they unite as one, and do incredible cheer routines, to overwhelm the rich kids with two left feet.

They’ve been going forever. The next installment will be based in a nursing home. A bunch of purple rinsers will throw away zimmer frames and do a routine in the common room, infuriating the old blokes who won’t be able to see the soapies on tv. ‘Bring it On – But Not Until After My Afternoon Nap.’

Anyway, I digress. It IS indeed a sport. One of the fastest growing in the land. And The Teenager loves it.

She’s been training like a demon. Some of the sessions go three hours. Our little girl has never been fitter.

The routines are part dance, part gymnastics, part pep-rally. Incredibly fast, choreographed to the second, set to a mash-up of modern music. Which is sometimes drowned out by the screaming crowd.

There are 30 members in her team. One of the bigger groups. Uniforms are bright, to match the spirits of those taking part. Smiles are compulsory.

In this section, there were more than 60 different teams competing. Even accounting for my bad maths, that’s over 15-hundred girls in action.

Some run, some jump, and others are thrown into the air. They’re caught, most of the time. It’s dangerous, high-flying stuff. Even more so, when you consider some of those doing the flying were watching the Wiggles just a few years ago.

As an old footy-head, I’ve been yearning for the girls to be in a team sport. You can’t beat the spirit and bond that comes from accomplishing a goal with a bunch of mates.

One team even had a mascot. A dad, of course. Bouncing around in a hot, sweaty outfit, complete with giant head. The things we do.

The auditorium was packed. There must have been 2-thousand people there. More than some Sydney NRL games. And here they were, these high-kicking kids, showing nerves of steel.

As I watched the routines roll across the afternoon, interrupted only by Mother Pink Bow telling parents not to take photos (for the safety of the kids – how sad), I was also struck by how confident these kids were.

I’m tipping school bullies would be giving this lot a big miss. And that’s a wonderful thing. Skyrocketing self-esteem, from hard work and loud music.

There’s room for everyone, too. Girls large and small. Heavy and tiny. And a couple of lucky blokes, who get to do the lifting.

It’s not often you find a new sport. Now that I have, I’m hooked. Just like The Teenager. You’ll find us at the next competition. I wonder if they have those pink bows for dads?

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