Pink bows, loud cheers, sweat and power was brought to Sligo Institute of Technology this weekend, as 250 cheerleaders from all over the island competed at Spring Tyme.

Cheerleading is a growing sport in Ireland, it was started up by Strike Force coach Hayden McGurk in 2009, and since then it has grown to ten cheerleading  programs, and approximately 500 athletes.

Four national competitions are arranged in Ireland every year. This weekend’s Spring Tyme brought the spirit to Sligo with five competing programs, Silver Stars Sligo, Ace High, Galway City Cougars, Galaxy and Dublin based Strike Force. The audience was cheering on the cheerleaders as athletes from kindergarten to college age were showing off their skills.

“It was a very friendly competition. We had a good atmosphere, coaches got to meet and converse, and the athletes showed high energy routines,” says Irish Cheer Sport president, Fiona Collumb.

HIGH SPIRIT: Irish Cheer Sport President Fiona Collums wants Ireland to discover Cheerleading.

HIGH SPIRIT: Irish Cheer Sport President Fiona Collumb wants Ireland to discover Cheerleading.

Spring Tyme was hosted by Sligo Silver Stars in conjuction with the Irish Cheer Sport Association, and is a way for the association to gather the teams, and keep the athletes motivated, without emptying their pockets to go to international competitions.

As a relatively new sport in Ireland, cheerleading has to fight for its recognition.

“The sport is more than pom poms and short skirts,” Collumb explain.

“We have grown predominantly the last years, and are looking at a way to expand the sport. As many other countries, we are steeped in our own sports, hurling and Gaelic football, who are dominant in every school. We need to change the view of cheerleading by educating parents, children, coaches and teachers. All countries face this challenge when it comes to bringing in new sports.”

Collumb are incorporating cheerleading through gymnastics in different schools she works at, and reveals that people are surprised when they see what cheerleading really is about; stunts, teamwork, tumbling and flying athletes.

Results from the cheer categories:

Skjermbilde 2013-03-04 kl. 12.11.28

Watch an excerpt from the competition here. The athletes are performing in the solo category:

Edit and upload: Amalie Knudsen.

At Spring Tyme the major events were solos and group stunts. In solos you see one athlete performing a floor routine with dance, tumbling, flexibility and jumps for approximately one minute. In group stunt four to five athletes performs stunt sequences and basket toss for one and a half minute. In the major competitions like Irish All Star Nationals in Mayo you see full team routines like this:

All photos: Amalie Knudsen.