NATIONAL Cheerleading Championship president Carlos Valdes believes the Philippines can immediately contend for an Olympic medal against the world’s best when cheerleading finally gets included the Olympic Games following the International Olympic Committee’s recognition of the sport.
When the IOC voted that cheerleading is a sport, the collective cheer reached the Philippines but the NCC is fully aware there remains a long process ahead, which likely puts out hope of seeing cheerleaders compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics..
The IOC recognition only means that the International Cheer Union (ICU), cheerleading’s governing body, will receive at least $25,000 annually and can apply for additional grants. For a three-year period, IOC officials can vote to fully recognize cheerleading as a sport. After which the ICU can petition to be included in the Olympic games.
If and when that happens, though, Valdes is confident of the Philippine team’s chances to reach the podium in the Olympics.
“We were bursting with pride and joy because we knew this was a unique activity and this can be declared a sport in our lifetime because we know how tedious and long the process is with the IOC,” Valdes told SPIN.ph in an interview.
“We’ve gone and competed at the highest level—the World Championships which is the ‘Olympics’ of cheerleading. I’m pretty confident. I don’t know of our chances but I can confidently say we will definitely be in the running for a podium finish every single Olympics Games if (cheerleading) is declared a sport, we will be in the running,” he added.
Team Pilipinas, a team trained and organized by the NCC from cheerleaders from Metro Manila schools, made a rousing debut with a bronze medal in its division in the 2014 Worlds and has participated in Orlando, Florida ever since. Several schools such as National University Pep Squad have also won in overseas competition, which only makes Valdes more optimistic.
“The other countries are very good and China hasn’t weighed in yet. You know how many gymnasts there are in China so very soon they will be up there also. In terms of the Worlds performance, our Team Pilipinas is ranked as one of the Top Five in the world every year,” he bared.
“We have the inside track. We are one of the top teams in the world. We’ve competed against Asian and world teams. Kayang kaya. Konting mistake lang ng kabila, pasok tayo. That’s how close it is,” the NCC head added.
In preparation for cheerleading being declared an Olympic sport, the NCC created the Philippine Cheerleading Association (PCA) to be positioned as the non-profit organization set to become its national sports association (NSA).
“It is non-profit, it is going to be a foundation and then we can hopefully get donors and sponsors to help Team Pilipinas. The NCC can remain as the activities organization,” he said.
Valdes also hopes that cheerleading becomes a required activity in schools to open up more opportunities for both coaches and athletes. This move, he says, will only push the sport forward to the right direction.
“(The other countries are) wary of the Philippine team. Everybody knows this is a pretty good team. We’re proud of that achievement. We developed the kids. We’ve seen it from Ilocos to South Cotabato how the kids love cheerleading,” he shared.
“Now that it’s a sport it opens up a lot possibilities. A high school cheerleader can dream of one day becoming the head of the National Cheerleading Association or even in Asia or the Olympics. You can actually have a career. That is what we’re looking forward to,” added Valdes.