Goan Leader Plans to Introduce Cheerleading to Football

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Panaji, Feb 11 (IANS) There is much more to cheerleading than just short skirts, says Subhash Shirodkar, chairman of the Cheerleaders Federation of India (CFI), who plans to introduce international cheerleading practices to the football field in India as well.

Shirodkar, who is Goa's state Congress president, says that the image of cheerleading in India, which is generally associated with "long legs, short skirts, daring costumes and lecherous ogling men, is just the thing that needs an immediate overhaul.

"Cheerleading is a terrific sport and I am proud to be heading the federation. This sport is a perfect combination of gymnastics, robotics and athleticism," Shirodkar told IANS.

Known for his penchant to skirt political controversies, Shirdokar, an otherwise low profile politician, now plans a total makeover for cheerleading.

"There is much more to the sport than just short skirts," according to Shirodkar, whose term as party president was extended to a couple of years more this week.

"When we formed CFI about a year back, we wrote to all colleges, schools and a lot of parents to send their wards to us for training. The response has been very good," he said.

"Last year we had a cheerleading competition in which the participants wore all sorts of costumes including traditional saris, India classical dance costumes and so on. I am trying my best to banish this one-tracked thought and misconception that cheerleading means only short costumes," Shirodkar said.

Shirodkar, who has been in active politics for the last thirty years and has backed several educational projects including a top homeopathy medical college in his constituency of Shiroda 30 km from here, also said that yoga and dance should be made compulsory subjects in India, in the same way several countries including Israel, have made enlistment in the army mandatory for youngsters.

"I would like to promote cheer-leading as a sport on the lines of athletics, etc. It has very good physical benefits," Shirodkar said, adding that his CFI would look at promoting cheerleading by taking troupes to the stadia and grounds where sporting events are held.

"Why just 20-20 venues? We will make sure that cheerleader groups are sent to other sports too. Football is such a popular sport in Goa. We will have cheerleaders performing during football tournaments in Goa too," Shirodkar said.

He also said that the CFI was tying up with popular dance academies in Goa to pep up the moves and add an overall nip to the performances.

"Learning moves from dance professionals and adapting it to cheerleading should have great results," Shirodkar said, adding that there were presently several hundred young school children who were enrolled with the CFI already.

"Cheerleading will click in India. 150 countries were participating in the 2011 Cheer-leading World Championships (due to be held in Hong Kong). In the next one year, the CFI will cover 20 states, creating awareness and promoting cheerleading in India," Shirodkar said.


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