Three cheers for highflying Islington squad

A group of high-flying Islington youngsters have done themselves proud with a series of fine results in the biggest cheerleading competition in Europe.

The London Eclipse Cheerleading Squad often train in Tufnell Park Fields, in Campdale Road, Tufnell Park, due to a lack of funds They came second in the senior and youth stunt categories at the FC International Cheer and Dance Competition in Bournemouth at the start of the month.

In addition, the youth full-squad and the senior hip-hop squad finished fourth and sixth respectively at the event, which saw the best cheerleaders in the country battle it out for the title.

Many of the girls, who are aged between six and 28, managed to fit in 18-hours a week training around their school commitments and work commitments to get ready for the competition.

Sarah Boyle, 28, who runs the squad, said: “I am very proud of them, because a lot of the other teams were really slick, well funded-operations and we are a bit of a rabble who train really hard, but got our reward.

“We had such a good time – it was really sunny and after one session we went down to the beach and did some stunts down there.

“When people think of cheerleading, they think of pom-poms and standing on the side-lines, but it is a serious competitive sport – the fastest growing one in the UK.

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The squad is run on a voluntary, non-profit basis, so the girls, many of whom hail from council estates across Islington, can get involved for next to nothing.

Miss Boyle: “I noticed there weren’t any cheerleading squads for young people in the area, so I started one.

“It’s really good for kids and can give them a positive focus in life. It is such a gymnastic sport, and if you start them young, they can do some amazing stunts.”

Amy Grech, 12, lives in Caledonian Road and is part of the youth stunt team.

She said: “It was great to finish second out of the whole country. I was really happy.

“I enjoy being part of the cheerleading squad and it gives me something to do.”