Have your heard rumours that the IPL cheerleaders are in fact strippers and escorts brought from overseas in the garb of cheergirls? Angela Carson was one who heard such a rumour. The American set out to find out the truth. The article that follows is an account of her discovery. All across the United States there are hundreds of thousands of cheerleaders ready to pep up and kick-start any event, starting from as young as around five years old. When we lived in San Diego, California, and my daughter was six or seven she was a cheerleader for a Pop Warner football team, which consisted of little boys ages six to eight playing American football.
During that time, she even competed once in a sports arena in front of 2, people and I can still picture her in her little uniform and pompoms cheering her little heart out as the equivalent of the team captain at the competition.
She was damn cute and it was amazing to see how serious the sport was taken, even for girls as young as my daughter. How cool, I thought. Until I saw them. Although in normal cheerleading clothes, cheerleaders in India are generally anything but normal. And by normal, I mean Indian. Except for a few rare occasions, Indian cheerleaders are not Indian at all; they are imported white girls. India has a population of 1. So why is the outsourcing king of the world outsourcing a sport that they obviously like to watch and that makes them smile?
Now, to be perfectly honest, because I felt that they were only adding to the negative stereotype of white women in India. I was very anti-White Mischief for the better part of a year. When they came on stage, I was judgmental and preparing to make fun of them to my mates. But then I realised that they were actually very sweet looking girls — yes, still sexy — and that they had just upped the vibe of the party threefold with their peppy dance number.
A few days later I was chatting with an Indian buddy of mine about them and he was convinced that they were strippers and escorts brought here to cheer.
Holy cow! If my sweet daughter keeps on dancing and cheering at university and later makes it onto the squad of a professional cricket team, would my friend seriously be thinking the same thing about her? To my ears, it was honestly crazy talk. It made me wonder, how many Indians actually believe that? And how could I help to shine a different light on these young women? So I went and had tea with them. These girls are smart, have huge hearts, warm personalities, volunteer their time to charity and can dance your socks off!
She started with modern dance and learned quickly that she preferred to go it solo and not with a partner so she studied jazz and hip hop primarily as she grew up. After high school, Melissa went on to university to study psychology and organisational psychology and next year plans to return to complete her honours and start a career in child psychology because of her passion for helping the young. Melissa started cheering professionally back in with a pro-rugby team.
With everyone so far away from home, I want to make sure that everyone is happy. She speaks Afrikaans and comes from a small but very tight-knit family who hails from a town with a population of around 40, called Welkom in South Africa. With her equipment at hand everywhere she goes, Nadine told me that her favourite shot in India so far is of an older mother and daughter who started laughing as she snapped their photo and she treasures the shots because they hold so much character. At the age of four she started acrobatics training and is the only member of the RCB cheer team who does acrobatics, including front and back flips, to pump up the crowd at matches.
Nadine holds her associate teachers certificate to teach acrobatics to children. This experience has been wonderful. She started taking gymnastics classes at five and then modern dance classes at six, which she continued along with hip hop through high school. She hopes to make it big in Bollywood one day and work alongside Shahrukh Khan. Back home most of the girls are involved in at least one, if not more, charity organisations.
Melissa helps build new schools and improve the infrastructure in townships slums and hopes to work with premature babies as a kangaroo therapist. Here in India, although the girls do have official public relations obligations, one thing that touched me the most about them was the activities that they schedule into their own free time, away from the cameras and the limelight. No one likes to be falsely labeled or judged. Angela Carson is a Californian who moved to Bangalore in April Aside from writing for magazines, newspapers and various websites, she heads up the MarCom team for a leading Indian BPO company.
She also works in the exciting world of cricket public relations as media spokesperson for the Karnataka Premier League.