By Mojo Abidi
A local dance team chosen to represent England at an international cheerleading competition have been crowned champions.
Team Infinity, based in Sheffield and Rotherham, were sent to the National Dance Alliance Championships in Florida to compete in the jazz and hip hop categories, battling-it-out against groups from America, Australia, China and even Korea.
Sheila Salvador, a student at the University of Sheffield, was one of the 16 dancers on Team Infinity who helped bring home a first place trophy for the jazz section of the competition.
The 21-year-old said that people’s reactions when she told them she was a cheerleader were often very negative.
She continued: “Lots of people laugh when I tell them I’m a cheerleader; I have to explain that it is a real competitive sport and that we train and take part in competitions… just like footballers!”
Sheila, who also coaches the University of Sheffield’s Pom Cheerleading team, says there is a lot of stigma attached to cheerleading, but the team actively try to dispel any stereotypes.
She said: “We do a lot of charity work in the local community. This weekend we are helping out at the race for life, a 5k run to raise money for cancer research.
“We want to show that cheerleaders are nothing like what you see in the movies.”
The Architecture and Structural Engineering student said her involvement in cheerleading had boosted her confidence and self-esteem, and that she hoped to continue performing, even after she graduates this year.
Because of Team Infinity’s success this year, they are hoping to be chosen to compete at the International Cheer Union Championships in 2017 – the olympics of the cheerleading world.