A team from the Aylesbury Cheerleading Academy (ACA) have qualified to compete on the world stage at an international tournament in Florida in April.
Team Apollo, or 'the dream team' as this reporter adoringly overheard them refer to themselves, have qualified in the Junior Level Two (ages 10-16) category for the All-Star Cheerleading competition, called The Summit, held at ESPN Walt Disney World.
They will be competing in the international section, against teams from as far a field as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
It's important to stress that All-Star Cheerleading is a highly competitive sport, and not perhaps what many people may envisage when they think of cheerleading. It takes place in a gymnasium – not at the side of a sports field.
Team Dad, Tim Salt, explained: “We want to breakdown the pre-conceived ideas of pom poms and la la la. We are far from that - what they do is spectacular.”
Parent Nina Lewis added: “It is a very demanding sport which requires physical strength, trust in your teammates, endless hours in the gym, dedication and commitment.”
Apollo consists of 20 girls (this is a mere coincidence – boys can and do compete in other teams) who achieved their goal of reaching America after winning their division at the International Centre in Bournemouth last July.
The pride that everyone at ACA feels regarding this achievement is infectious. Nina Lewis said: “The girls had to win this opportunity. It wasn't given to them. It's not something you can just enter - you have to be the very best.”
The event in the sunshine state takes place over two days, when the teams will compete against each other, performing two-and-a-half-minute routines to music. They are marked out of five on aspects such as stunts, jumps, dance and tumbling.
On the mat, the team are expertly and enthusiastically led by coach Ewan Alman, formerly an American footballer and now part-time rapper, and choreographer Pascale Descrettes - “the creative one” according to Ewan.
We look forward to tracking the progress of Team Apollo in what promises to be an exciting year for the group.
As one might imagine, this trip does not come cheap, costing £230 per athlete just to enter. ACA are hoping to attract sponsorship from local businesses and also have a fundraising page.
It you would like to sponsor the team please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to donate to their fundraising page: ACA JustGiving Page