THIS is a cause for good cheer.
Solar Sports has reached an agreement with the National Cheerleading Championship (NCC) to be its broadcast partner for three more years.
The NCC and Solar first teamed up last March during the two-day NCC National Finals in the Mall of Asia Arena as part of the network’s foray into cheerleading, one of the fastest rising sports in the country.
Solar Entertainment Head Wilson Tieng said in a press conference in Capitol Commons, Pasig City, that cheerleading has emerged from being a niche activity into the mainstream.
“It doesn’t happen overnight but we’re investing in time and resources,” said Tieng.
Under the new deal, Solar Sports will be showcasing the NCC with “in-depth coverage” that will include regional competitions that begin in September to the conclusion of the nationals in March as well as documentary-style productions.
NCC head Carlos Valdes said the channel is the right home for the country’s biggest cheerleading competition.
"Last season, Solar Sports aired the Nationals in its entirety, bringing all the excitement, drama, and fun to fans nationwide. The coverage was world-class, expertly capturing the essence of the sport."
Apart from regionals and the cheer camps, Solar Sports will also cover the 2016 campaign of Team Pilipinas in the World Championships in Disneyworld, Florida.
"Cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports around the world, and the Philippines is among the top nations in this sport", said Valdez, noting that recent podium finishes of delegations that also include the National University Pep Squad have made the country a regional power in the fast-emerging sport.
The NCC started in 2006 with ten teams in two divisions. Last March, the NCC drew 128 teams that competed in six divisions.
Ralph Roy, Solar’s chief technology officer, said they “plan to grow the sport further in the next three years” with coverage extending outside the big cities to the Visayas and Mindanao areas.
The NCC is regarded as the premiere cheerleading competition in the country. Every year it launches a nationwide search for the best teams the Philippines. Last season, over 5000 athletes from 250 schools participated in the largest assembly of top squads to date.
“This is the biggest youth sport organization that is not government. In a year-round competition, we have 5,000 athletes vying to be called national champions,” Valdez said.
Unlike the UAAP and the NCAA cheerleading competitions which it also oversees, the NCC has categories that range from grade school-level Peewee to the All-Star teams composed of cheerleaders who have already graduated but still wish to compete.
Paula Nunang, NCC national director, said they will continue to espouse cheerleading as a sport and “not just a halftime show in basketball.”
She noted the entertainment factor involved but also noted that cheerleaders are more than just “cute faces” but as athletes who “train very hard”, possessing skill levels at par or even better with their foreign counterparts.
The NCC also plans to hold the first ever Philippine Open in the same weekend as the Nationals, with eight countries already confirmed to join.
Solar Sports is seen on SkyCable (Ch.70), Cignal (Ch.55), Destiny (Ch.35), and Cablelink (Ch.58).