A troupe of young Thetford cheerleaders are hoping to dazzle judges in a national competition tomorrow.
The Thundercats group started up around 18 months ago, teaching the challenging gymnastic sport to children and teenagers.
Now the 40-strong squad is heading for the big leagues, competing alongside teams from around the UK at the Future Cheer competition at Loughborough University on Saturday.
Samantha Hoffman, the group’s founder, said: “The last time we entered a competition I took a squad of just under 20 to London and we came back with nine or ten trophies. We’re taking a lot more kids this time.
“Some of the girls have been with us for less than a year and they’re already going to a national competition.
“They had to go through a trial process to prove they were going to work and be part of the team.
“It’s very much a team sport, there is a lot of effort and dedication from the girls.”
Samantha, a former doctor’s receptionist, said she has been a dancer all her life and specialised in ballet before getting into cheerleading about eight years.
“Girls love the whole idea of sparkly poms and things, but they start to get interested once they see what cheerleading really is,” she said.
“It’s a really tough sport. Poms are included, but there are three or four different disciplines within it.
“It’s also about the gymanstics and tumbling, the physical strength, and there’s the dancing side too.”
In this weekend’s competiton the squad are entering 15 different categories across four age ranges, mini (under seven), youth (under 11), junior (under 14) and senior (14 and over).
The categories range from classic pom and cheerleading routines, to stunt routines and dance styles including hip hop and jazz.
Samantha said: “The girls are all feeling very nervous, they put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well.
“It’s the mentality of cheerleading, to do your best, but it teaches you a lot of important life skills too.
“They learn about time management, discipline, and have to exercise at home too to keep their fitness level up.
“It also teaches them about teamwork , as well as respect, trust and dedication.”