Interhigh spirit competition gets disqualified

MBOMBELA – The competitive aspect of the spirit, singing and cheerleading at this year’s Mediclinic Lowveld Interhigh, to be held on Saturday February 20 at Hoërskool Lydenburg, has been abandoned.

The seven competing schools will still have the traditional cheerleaders’ entrances, the prepared and unprepared songs, but no judging will be done and no trophies awarded.

The decision was taken at a meeting of some of the principals of the competing schools at Hoërskool Barberton recently.

The only trophy which will be competed for is the athletics trophy, which Hoërskool Nelspruit has won for the past 50 years.

As word of the decision spread many parents voiced their disapproval to role players at the schools and to Lowvelder.

One chairman of a school governing body (SGB) told Lowvelder that parents had said they were dissatisfied with the decision.

It was also confirmed by a reliable source that various parents from another school had approached the headmaster to voice their anger.

According to Mr Pieter Ferreira, headmaster of Hoërskool Barberton, “The Lowveld high school heads, during a meeting, decided unanimously that the singing competition in its present format will continue, but that the competition aspect will be discontinued, including the handing over of trophies for singing and cheerleading”.

Ferreira said in a press release that the reason for the decision was to place more emphasis on athletes’ participation.

“The focus of the singing component also moves to participation, enjoyment of the day by all spectators and the projection of a positive image of each school, by its spectators,” he said.

Lowvelder, however, has been informed by several sources that the issue of the size of the schools’ spirit teams was raised by one principal at last week’s meeting. Other headmasters also voiced their reservations. Some said they had an issue with the size of Hoërskool Nelspruit’s spirit team. They said the smaller schools were at a disadvantage, given their lower numbers. This, the sources claim, was the real reason for the scrapping of the competitive aspect of spirit teams, singing and cheerleading.

Lowveld Media has sponsored the Lowvelder Best Cheerleaders Trophy for the past four years. Ms Linda Pieters, marketing manager of Lowveld Media, said the company was very disappointed with the scrapping of the non-athletic competitions.

“I have communicated our unhappiness to Mr Pieter Ferreira. Judging the amazing cheerleaders and awarding discipline and hard work was our way of being involved in the community. We believe it is important to give back. The decision was made without even asking for our input,” she said.

Last year Rob Ferreira won the cheerleaders trophy.

“This would have been the fifth year that the Lowvelder Best Cheerleaders Trophy was competed for. The cheerleading squads came up with mindblowing routines every year and the competition among them was fierce. Now everyone is going to go home not knowing which school was the best. These talented and passionate children have been hard done by,” she concluded.

The heads and chairmen of the governing bodies of the seven schools’ were sent media queries.

Only the Bergvlam SGB chairman, Mr Bernard van Rooyen, and Mr Tielman Nieuwoudt, chairman of Lydenburg’s SGB, replied.

Nieuwoudt said the decision to scrap the spirit, singing and cheerleading trophies was fully supported by the principal, Mr Johan Loots, and the SGB.

He said, however, Hoërskool Lydenburg would prefer a system of proportional representation for spirit teams.

Van Rooyen said the SGB of Hoërskool Bergvlam requested for the old format to be retained this year, and then adopt a workable plan for the future. He said he had received many complaints from Bergvlam parents on the issue.

Host school principal Loots telephonically told Lowvelder that he was ignoring the questions. “I will not play games with children,” he said. He said his school received almost no support from Lowvelder.

Mark Kinnear
Deputy editor

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