Cheerleader coach joins Team England set-up
Published on: 24 Mar 2017
A CHEERLEADING coach from Downend says she is honoured to be helping show disability is not a barrier after being selected to help train disabled athletes who will compete for England.
Sammi Coggans, 26, is part of the coaching team for Team England ParaCheer and ParaCheer Freestyle Pom.
The teams, which include four Bristol-based able-bodied athletes, will compete at the ICU World Cheerleading Championships in Florida in April.
Sammi was 15 when she started running cheerleading sessions at an after-school club at Downend School.
Her coaching grew from there and now Sammi runs the Kingswood and Easton-based Black Panthers Allstars.
Sammi said the world championships would provide a brilliant opportunity to show how disabled and non-disabled athletes could work together.
She said: "The divisions are brand new to the world stage and involve athletes with physical disabilities and/or sensory disabilities and non-disabled athletes competing together, demonstrating that disability isn't a barrier to performing at the highest level.
"Myself and my four athletes travel twice a month to day long training sessions with 50 other team members and staff from around the country.
"We have been working hard session to create intricate and inclusive routines ready for the world stage. Our routines are looking strong and we are ready to represent our country.
"I'm a bit nervous but very excited. I'm only nervous because of the enormity of the event but everyone is really looking forward to it."
The ParaCheer division had been in development for three years with support from UK charity ParaCheer International, which works for equality and diversity within the sport of cheerleading.
The charity has been working with the ICU to advise on the development of the new division, including technical adaptations, scoring systems and rules.