SINGAPORE - There are no national safety guidelines for cheerleading in Singapore. And the sport does not have a national association of its own to check whether coaches have the proper training.
But this does not mean safety is not taken seriously, coaches and cheerleaders told The Straits Times on Friday.
The sport has come under scrutiny after Thursday's death of 19-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Lai Qing Xiang. Two weeks ago, he hit his head on the ground when trying a backflip during cheerleading training. He never regained consciousness.
Questions are now being raised about whether there are enough safety measures during practice.
The sport has not received National Sports Association status from the Singapore National Olympic Council. And without a national governing body, who makes sure that coaches are properly qualified, and have the skill to handle emergencies in what is a fairly dangerous sport?
In 2011, a University of North Carolina study found that 65.2 per cent of all catastrophic sports injuries occur in cheerleading, making it the second most dangerous sport in the US - behind American football. Such figures are not available in Singapore.
Cheerleeding is offered to schools here from primary to junior college level under the Sports Education Programme run by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Singapore Sports Council.
Currently, only Dion Eng Cheerleading School is endorsed by MOE to provide cheerleading programmes for the schools. Coaches under the programme must have the relevant coaching accreditation and first aid certification.