Johannesburg’s Tylar Booysen does not like the limelight. The 15-year-old is just a good kid who gets good grades, writes poetry and enjoys sports. She is also making history by being part of the first junior team that will represent South Africa at the World Cheerleading Championships in the US.
The competition is hosted by the International Cheer Union, which has a membership of 3.5 million athletes and 105 cheerleader federations in more than 70 countries. The world championships identify and reward the best cheerleaders in the world.
When asked about her history-making journey to the US, Tylar says that it is an overwhelming feeling but she is very excited. She also confesses that at times, she feels a bit guilty because she started so late.
Most cheerleaders start cheering at the age of 6. Tylar, however, started in 2015 at the age of 12, after her Buccleuch Primary school teacher asked her to audition. The following year, her school gave her an award for most promising Cheerleader followed by her Junior Gauteng and SAMCA Colours in 2017, and her full Junior Colours in Cheerleading in 2018. She says that because she started so late, she sometimes feels like she does not deserve to be part of the team but this is part of her nature.
Tylar’s mom Shakeera, says that, despite being a hard worker, Tylar is always hard on herself and always questions whether she did her best. Those that know her; describe her as humble, well-mannered and always helpful.
This tendency to be hardworking and hard on herself is also reflected in her schoolwork. The Bryanston High learner always features in the top 20 and receives straight A’s in all of her subjects, which include maths and physics. She is also a member of her school’s Student Body Council and she is the Altar Server at her local Anglican Church.
Now, for those of you think that cheerleading is about cheering for the boys at the rugby game, think again. Cheering is an actual sport and the Cheer Federation is recognised by the umbrella organisation for all international sports federations, the Global Association of International Sports Federations.
Tylar and her teammates do not participate at any sports events for the boys. Instead, they compete in national cheer competitions as members of the South African Majorette and Cheerleading Association (SAMCA). The sport requires hours of training each week and one three-minute routine can take weeks to prepare. “I think most people think it’s about dancing but there is so much technique and hard work that goes into it, so I definitely think its underappreciated,” says Tylar.
Cheering is also a multibillion-dollar sport and is watched by millions across the world. Recently, the Cheer Union applied for the sport to be included in the Olympics, so do not be surprised if you see Tylar representing South Africa at the Olympics.
At present, Tylar and her parents are still trying to fundraise. Tylar and her SA Junior teammates, Megan Fletcher and Rendani Matumba, has to pay R40000 per person to attend the championships. All three girls describe being able to travel to the US as an opportunity of a lifetime, so if you want to support or sponsor them, you can do so by contacting SAMCA at email@example.com. If you want to contact Tylar’s mom, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tylar and her teammates will leave on the 21st of April and the competition will take place from the 24th to the 26th of April at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida USA.
Note: Thanks to Tylar Booysen and her mom, Shakeera, for making time to speak with us.
Source(s): sandtonchronicle.co.za, other