In order to soften the blow of Ireland's humiliating exit to Denmark in their World Cup qualifier last November we have some good news.
Ireland are heading to the cheerleading World Cup! A team are leaving for the US this week and will be the first ever to represent Ireland and Irish Universities at The Cheerleading and Dance National Championships in Florida. The team will compete in the ESPN arena in Disneyland, Orlando on the 13th and 14th of January.
Captain of the team Aleksandra Jagielska spoke to John Mulligan and Gerry Murphy on Galway Bay FM about the sport as well as their preparations for the contest:
We're all very excited packing the last bits and getting ready to head to the airport. This event is really massive there are 110 countries altogether in one arena competing against each other and it is a sport now we also qualified for the Olympics.
The teams will be marked by a panel of judges and Jagielska went onto explain what techniques are used in the routines:
We do stunts, we do tumbles, we do pyramids, we chant. So it is actually a sport. The routines only take two minutes and 30 seconds but it takes a lot of effort and ability to actually do it all. Cheerleading is a power version of gymnastics, it's a bit more varied.
There are three guys and eleven girls are on the team and Jagielska mentions how rigorous the training is with the team practicing every second day in the lead up to the competition.
The sport clearly has a lot of traction across the water and the stadium hosting the event holds 30,000 people. The event is live on Varsity TV at five o'clock in the afternoon (Irish time) and will also be broadcast on ESPN.
Good luck to all Irish students involved!