Group launches £25k appeal to set up first cheerleading centre for Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 18:33 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 21:10 19 June 2019
ENIGMA CHEERLEADING ACADEMY
An Ipswich group has launched a £25,000 appeal to set up Suffolk's first cheerleading centre - so more youngsters can get involved.
Enigma Cheerleading Academy, a not-for-profit community interest company, is currently based at Copleston High School, and members have just competed successfully at an event in Barcelona.
But now they need more space and dedicated training facilities so that the group can grow.
Head coach Helen Wright said: "With more than 80 athletes a week in training, we need more space to offer more classes and opportunities to our community. Norwich has two cheer gyms, but Suffolk has none.
"Copleston School have been great in helping us, but they cannot store all the equipment we need and we cannot put a sprung floor down, as the school and other users need the spaces throughout the week."
The group has been searching for a suitable industrial unit which can be fitted out. Helen said it would cost £18,000 to install a sprung floor, and the rest would go to pay for safety mats, a tumbling gymnastics track and equipment.
"All are expensive, but these are what the participants need to safely progress," she added. "We just need more space, more training time and more equipment."
She stressed that cheerleading is not just dancing and pom poms, as seen in American movies.
"The great thing about cheer is all shapes and sizes are able to take part, children and adults. I love its inclusivity. I am so passionate about the opportunities we can give our athletes and being part of a cheer team is just so much fun," Helen said.
"Our athletes are aged four to 49 - I am the 49! This being my 50th birthday year, I was determined to do more than just coach."
At the Future Cheer competition in Barcelona, Helen was third in open pom dance, member Chloe Bates, aged 12, was champion in youth contemporary lyrical, and Enigma's youth stunt group were division winners in youth level one.
Helen's daughter, Steph, aged 17, has been taking part since she was six and has just started a school team at Copleston.
Although most cheerleaders are girls, Enigma does have a couple of boys, including Helen's son, Shaun, aged nine. She said: "I'd love to have more boys joining. They really enjoy themselves - it's a good workout."
Members are now rehearsing for their annual showcase for friends and family on June 30, where their awards will be given out, and then in the first week of July there will be tryouts for the cheerleading and dance teams.