Cheerleaders no longer, from Friday night the young women spurring on the Brisbane Broncos shall be known as dancers, and will ditch the old costumes in favour of a more toned down look, albeit still with the pompoms.
Broncos dance squad coach Jools Purchase told the ABC for Friday night’s home derby against the North Queensland Cowboys the dancers were moving “from a cheerleading look to an athletic look”.
But for the moment, Ms Purchase is keeping details of the new outfits under wraps.
“Leggings, that’s all I’m going to say – you have to watch,” she said.
“We’ve actually been trying to change it for a while now, because life happens and we want to desexualise things.”
The sexualisation of women on sporting arenas came to a head this week when AFLW star Tayla Harris found herself at the centre of an online trolling barrage over a photo of her kicking a ball.
Other NRL teams have begun following a similar path with their cheer squads.
The Canberra Raiders ditched cheerleaders in 2017, and this year the Melbourne Storm is axing the cheer squad in favour of a “street crew” of male and female hip hop and street dancers.
“We’ve gone not necessarily that far, we’ve taken it back a little bit but we’re still all-female, still cheery but without the cheerleading look, I guess you could say,” Ms Purchase said.
“Still got our pompoms and all that sort of stuff, we’ve got to keep a bit of tradition in there, I think.”
The Broncos dance squad do host male visitors in their ranks, but not on a regular basis.
Ms Purchase has been with the Broncos dance squad for seven years and said they were highly athletic and all very talented.
“I think if the players came to our training that we’d put them through their paces, for sure.
“Outside of dancing, a lot of them are personal training or they dance professionally or they are dance teachers full-time, so they are incredibly fit.
“They need to be fit, they need to be fit because they are doing a three to four-minute routine on the field and then they actually have to run around the field on the sidelines.
“The girls are incredibly talented and a lot of them get contracted during the year.”