Football: Malaysia team defends hiring cheerleaders

A newly formed cheerleading squad have defended their appointment by a Malaysian top flight football team, saying they were hired to provide 'decent and polite' support for the team amid complaints from conservative fans.

The Titan Cheerleaders, a 15 woman group, will provide support for T-Team during the upcoming season at home matches in the majority Muslim east coast state of Terengganu.

Malaysian daily newspaper The Star reported fans were against the employment of cheerleaders and had 'swamped' message boards with complaints, but the Titans said those supporters had misunderstood their remit.

"We have only just formed ... the fans should not judge so soon without knowing what we actually do," 27-year-old hotel receptionist and Titan's member Rabiatul Adawiyyah Mohd told the newspaper.

"Our role is more ambassadorial and we are here to garner support for T-Team and also help the fans know the team better. Our dressing will be decent and not like those often seen in the west."

Salon worker Zuraida Ahmad Zaid, 19, said the women had strong morals and the support would be tasteful.

"We know Terengganu is a conservative state. Of course we will be decent and polite in our appearance. The fans need to be more open-minded. If it went against our eastern values, of course we wouldn't do it," she said.

Highly popular in America, all-female cheerleading squads have for many years performed dance routines during games to entertain the crowd and drum up support for their team.

The ploy has stretched across many different sports throughout the world and the Titans are not the first group to appear in Malaysian football either with squads supporting top flight rivals ATM and Kelantan.

"They have not faced such problems," T-Team chief executive officer Ab Rasid Jusoh said of the other cheerleading squads.

"Besides the normal cheerleading routine on match days, our cheerleaders will also be involved in a lot of goodwill activities with the community, such as visiting orphanages and old folks' homes."