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Bishop Gibson High takes central title in invitational cheer-off

Monday, February 11, 2019

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Bishop Gibson High was the top central Jamaica school in the recent cheerleading competition here.

The inaugural event, organised by the Jamaica Fitness Association (Jamfit) in collaboration with Fontana Pharmacy Mandeville was held on the grounds of the Belair High School.

deCarteret College and Belair High placed second and third respectively, in the central region.

Ten schools from across the country participated in the cheer-off invitational with Meadowbrook High, Spanish Town High, Godfrey Stewart High and St Hugh's High also taking category awards.

The tertiary cheerleading team from the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which recently returned from the College World Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida, also showcased their talent though not competitively.

Karelle Jones, director of Jamfit and personal trainer for 31-years, told the Jamaica Observer Central that her organisation is working on building cheerleading in a more structured way, in areas outside of Kingston.

Since 2016, cheerleading has gained provisional Olympic status and Jones is hoping for Jamaica to have a team at the 2028 Olympics in the United States.

Jones, who is also president of the Jamaica Cheer Federation, said that the first rural competition was well received by students and school leaders.

Kevin O'Brien Chang, a director at the family-owned Fontana Pharmacy, said that coming on board for the event formed part of the company's 50th anniversary celebration and partnering with schools is a part of the commitment of the brand.

“We are looking forward to seeing the expansion of cheerleading in schools in central Jamaica and we at Fontana will be working with Jamfit in every way possible.

“Having Jamaicans performing in cheerleading at the Olympics, would fit the energy of the nation's culture.

“Jamaicans have vibrance, enthusiasm and energy; it is good to channel it positively. It is also a way to build brand Jamaica,” Chang offered.

Lawrence Rowe, principal of Belair High, believes that the same way in which Jamaica is dominant in track and field it can one day be dominant in cheerleading.

Jamfit coach in the central region Elton Walters said that the invitational was a good experience for schools, as there are technical aspects to cheerleading that must be learnt in order for the participants to grow professionally.

— Alicia Sutherland