A thirteen-year-old girl from Ratoath has travelled to the U.S to represent Ireland in the biggest cheerleading event in the world.
Jessica Cahill, a second-year student of Ratoath College is hoping for success as she along with 80 others from the Irish National Cheerleading team make their way to Florida to take part in the Cheerleading World Championships held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World in Orlando this week.
The team of talented young women will fly the flag for Ireland in the tournament and compete against countries such as England, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand with the hope of gaining a top 10 of world rankings.
Speaking from the sunshine state, the Ratoath student said she was looking forward to the competition,
The Irish team ahead of the ICU World Cheerleading Championships in Florida
"It's a dream come true to be here in Florida representing Ireland in the biggest cheerleading competition in the world. I have been involved with the sport since I was five and I just I'm so passionate about it. I feel really lucky to be here with the team and I'm so excited to compete. We have worked a whole year in preparation for this.
"I'm so proud of how far all of the girls have come and how hard we have worked, the bond we have is amazing."
Jessica is a part of the first ever junior all-girl team in the junior segment of the global championships. The International Cheer Union (ICU) based in Memphis is the global representing body for sport cheering. It is the biggest cheerleading event in the world with over 16,000 competitors from over 100 nations represented from every continent.
The Irish cheerleading team in Orlando
"Throw away the old stereotype of cheerleading and think of the new modern form of the sport which incorporates an elite level of gymnastics, acrobatics combined into a very fast-paced routine where confidence and enthusiasm ooze," commented a spokesperson for the team Ireland contingency.
Cheerleading was granted provisional Olympic Sport Recognition in 2017 with the hope that its high level of athleticism, large global participation, high level of spectators and modern appeal will eventually make the future Olympic games.
The junior Irish cheer team is coached by Hayden McGurk, Shannon O’Reilly and supported by Saoirse Mooney, who are the head coaches of the Strike Force Cheer programme. Coach Shannon, says, "The team, families and coaches have been working hard on this project for the last 12 months and it’s now time for Ireland to leave its mark on the international cheerleading stage”.
Good luck Jessica!