What’s common between high heels and cheerleading? The Answer; Men. The origin of both high heels and cheerleading started with men long before any of us reading this were born. Trivia is always enlightening which is why this feature takes a look at a much enjoyed but less talked about aspect of the Indian Premier League Twenty 20 Cricket championship; the IPL Girls better known as the Hot Cheerleaders of Cricket.
High Heels were actually invented hundreds of years ago. Recorded history points to their appearance in the 1600s in Europe. Originally made for male horse-riders, they were designed with a specific purpose; to help the rider to get a strong footing on the stirrup. High heels were never designed to be used for walking but after women started adopting the shoe in the 1630s appreciation for the product as a female prop began to grow. The advent of fashion, modelling, theater and cinema accelerated this trend and the rest is history.
Similarly, cheerleading also began as an all-male activity in the late 1800s. November 2, 1898 is the official birth date of organized cheerleading. The first cheerleader ever was a University of Minnesota student named Johnny Campbell. For almost 10 years, after its conception cheerleading primarily composed of men. Women entered the discipline in 1907 and as the years went by and the world got embroiled in bloody world wars it got took over by them. Today, 97 percent of cheerleaders are female and cheerleading as an activity is now a sport.
Highly predominant in USA, cheerleading is closely associated with American football and basketball. However, globalization has led to other developed countries like Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan to also promote the acrobatic dance sport. A few other sports such as football, baseball and hockey also make use of cheerleaders today. Professional cheerleaders such as those belonging to leagues of the NBA, MLB and NFL etc are also able to finds gigs as models and anchors.
IPL today ,i cant wait see the cheer leaders http://www.redskins.com/cheerleaders/
— Theyagarajan S (@taggy) April 18, 2008
For a sport like Cricket which is also referred to as the “Gentleman’s Game”, its association with modern day cheerleaders was something that no one could have imagined right until the first few years of the 21st century. The advent of a more modern, fast paced, soccer style Twenty 20 format however transformed the game from a sport to yet another form of entertainment. The ICC Twenty 20 Cricket World Cup held in South Africa in 2007 was the first time cheerleaders were introduced into the sport. That tournament had many firsts which is why the concept of cheerleaders didn’t get much viewer attention. The innovation though didn’t go unnoticed and a year later in the cricketing mecca of the world, cheerleading was introduced in grand fashion.
On April 18, 2008, the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), an NBA, NFL style cricketing competition with teams named after the different cities in India was launched amidst much fan-fare. This was a high stakes tournament with investments to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. The who’s who of Indian society right from A-list cricketers and Bollywood stars to politicians and super-rich industrialists were involved with the franchise. Eight teams with each team consisting of cricketers from around the world was a never before seen format. Professional cheerleaders from some of the best cheerleading outfits in the world being associated with each team was also something new. As the tournament progressed the buzz grew. Soon people were thronging stadiums and watching the games on television to get a glimpse of the cricketing action and spicy entertainment. The latter was served by the cheerleaders of each team also known as the IPL Girls.
So where do these girls come from? What’s their story? What draws them to come to India? Read on to find out more:
Teams With The Hottest Cheerleaders
During the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, the performances of the participating teams were rated on two main fronts; their ranking on the points table and the oomph factor of their cheerleaders. As it turned out towards the end, the hotter the IPL girls of a team were the worse the performance of the players on the field.
Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) finished at the bottom of the points table but their cheerleading outfits were the most talked about during the tournament. The poor performance of the Deccan Chargers who came last became the butt of all jokes since they had the hottest IPL girls as part of their troop. These girls were the cheerleaders from the USA Red Sox and they caught the attention of Indian viewers with their blonde hair, perfect figures and seductive clothing.
On the other hand the Royal Challengers Bangalore owned by the flamboyant businessman Vijay Mallaya and his son fielded the first ladies of football themselves as their sizzling IPL girls. The Washington Redskins Cheerleading team is the official cheerleading squad for the American football team with the same name. It is known for being one of the best cheerleading squads in the United States boasting of extremely athletic, gorgeous and stunning women. These women stole the hearts of many cricket fans in India however the RCB management probably found them to be a big distraction and too pricey to continue their relationship. As a result they were not seen again for future editions of the IPL.
One of the brands that established itself as a source for providing international cheerleaders to various IPL teams was White Mischief. Owned by Vijay Mallay’s UB group itself, the vodka brand provides its White Mischief Gals to other teams like Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab in addition to RCB. The rest of the teams use agencies to organize their outfits and most of the girls come from various parts of Eastern Europe.
Considering the history of the IPL since 2008, the Deccan Chargers and RCB in 2008 are hands down winners when it comes to having the best cheerleading teams. Thereafter its hard to choose a winner but the White Mischief IPL girls are strong contenders.
The Inside Life Of The IPL Girls
While the IPL Cheerleaders seem like they are professional dancers or entertainers the truth is that they come from a number of different countries and occupations. Ukraine, Russia, Belgium, Norway are some of the places these girls belong to. Mostly under 25 years of age, back home they are students, teachers or even bankers. What draws them to the shores of India is not the money, but the lure to travel to different parts of the country in-style with all expenses paid.
Says Yuliya Yahovleva, a dancer from Ukraine who is a Delhi Daredevils cheerleader
International cheerleaders are coming here because sports activity has became more intercultural and diverse. We are not here to make money, we have come to see India, experience the tradition, culture and, of course, dancing is part of it
While some are attracted by the perk of travelling others come to truly experience India, driven by their love for Bollywood and spirituality. Ukrainian student Ivanna Prytula, who is among the Delhi Daredevils cheerleaders, learns Hindi back home at Kiev University
Untold Secrets Of A Cricket Cheerleader in India
While the introduction of Cheerleaders in Cricket did glamorize the sport a lot it also brought along with it new problems. The IPL franchise was not much about the game but more about showbiz and entertainment. The IPL girls added to the glamour and masala of the event. In doing so they were exposed to millions of people around the country during each match. Later while touring cities during their free-time, the people on the streets would eye them in a negative manner.
EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Diary of an IPL Cheerleader, Part II – Who is Messing Around at Afterparties? http://bit.ly/iplgirlii
— Alternative Cricket (@AltCricket) April 28, 2011
At the end of each day their would be extravagant after-parties where players, cheerleaders, sponsors, and other important members of the IPL fraternity would cut loose amongst a melange of alcohol, music and plenty of eye-candy. These parties became the breeding ground for illegal activities such as Match Fixing, Spot Fixing, attempts to corrupt players to sway results etc. The IPL cheerleaders were also tested during these parties as many cricketers would attempt to approach these girls with sexual intentions.
In many instances the IPL girls also had problems getting paid as their contracts were handled by third party agencies outsourced by the team management. During IPL 2013, the team of Ukranian cheerleaders for the Rajasthan Royals were not paid by their agency. For IPL 2014 it has been reported that there would no cheerleaders, after-parties like before owing to the 2013 spot fixing controversy.
Do you think IPL will be the the same without the smiling and dancing IPL Girls? What are your views about having cheerleaders in Cricket? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.