The Cheer Leaders of Lagos
In March of 2016 Lilian Obieze, was motivated to bring together a group of young women and men to champion the bid of cheerleading as a competitive sport in Lagos, Nigeria.
Among the cheerleaders includes Hassana, a salsa dancer, now a flyer in the senior team that combines her licensing job, schooling at Yaba-tech, teaching younger children Dance and having time for Church activities.
Cheerleading originated in the United States, and organized cheerleading started as an all-male activity as early as 1877 at Princeton University, while women were permitted to participate in 1923 at the University of Minnesota. In the 1950s, the formation of professional cheerleading started.
Cheerleading can be performed to motivate sports teams, to entertain the audience, or for competition. Competitive routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes, and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers and stunting.
Cheerleading is a sport not fully given the recognition it deserves; a lot of people still don’t know about it being a competitive sport and the benefits that sports as youth empowerment can bring.
Cheerleaders train vigorously under challenging circumstances, and the Lagos Cheerleaders have surmounted a lot of the hurdles while looking forward to competing internationally, a dream yet to be actualized. Among the challenges are lack of proper training mats and a gymnasium to train and store the training equipments, also funding.
This work focuses on documenting their struggles, their challenges, and their trainings as they hope to one day represent Nigeria at the International Cheer Union (ICU) and the Olympics.