By Darren Ching
Defending Inter-Hall Cheerleading champion Razers, the resident cheerleading team of Hall of Residence 10, has disbanded due to insufficient members to compete in the annual Inter-Hall Cheerleading Competition (IHCC) next month.
The team, established in 2008, have won gold thrice and finished as runners-up twice in the past five years.
But last semester, Razers failed to recruit enough members in their annual season recruitment drive, spurring team captain Aronn Lim, 22, to close the team down.
Lim, a second-year student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) attributed the low enrolment numbers to the guaranteed two-year hall stay given to first-year students, which was implemented at the start of last semester.
As freshmen no longer need to earn points to secure a hall room for their subsequent year, there is less incentive for them to participate in hall activities, he added.
“The two-year policy definitely hurt us quite a bit. Given how we’re also short on seniors, the lack of freshmen made it hard to maintain the team.”
The team first put up a showcase last August and conducted open sessions which introduced basic cheerleading moves and stunts to hall residents. But these initiatives only managed to attract nine first-year students, adding on to a team that had only retained four seniors.
Razers’ vice-captain Dylan Teow, 23, said a lack of genuine interest and understanding about the sport of cheerleading from Hall 10 residents made it difficult to attract new members.
“There are so many misconceptions that guys need to be strong and girls need to be light,” added the second-year Nanyang Business School (NBS) student.
Hall 10 resident Joelle Chua, 19, was looking forward to being a part of Razers and was devastated when told of the team’s closure during training in mid-October.
“Even though I was new, I felt like something important had been taken away from me,” said the first-year student from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).
“Looking back at Razers’ past achievements made me feel like my batch had failed this great team.”
Despite this setback, Chua is not ready to give up her passion for cheerleading. She has since joined NTU’s varsity cheerleading team Aces to continue her pursuit of the sport.
Likewise, it is not the end of the road for second-year WKWSCI student Toby Wu, 22, who was a member of Razers last season.
His desire to learn new cheerleading techniques pushed him to join Hall 10’s direct rivals Douzers, Hall 12’s cheerleading team who were the runners-up for IHCC 2017.
Despite having found a new team to continue cheerleading, Wu is still in disbelief over Razers’ disbandment.
“It doesn’t make sense. We finished last year as champions with a full team. Now we’re at square one all over again,” he lamented.
Other students within the cheerleading community also expressed shock at Razers’ closure.
Captain of Hall 16’s cheerleading team Xtreme, Eng Yao Xuan, 20, speculated that the team could have folded due to an absence of team bonding among members.
“The more bonded your team is, training sessions will likely be more enjoyable and then more people will be keen to participate,” said the second-year SPMS student.
With the absence of defending champion Razers, Douzers from Hall 12 will aim to clinch the title in next month’s IHCC competition.
But their captain, Yong Joon Weng, 22, was quick to remind his team not to be complacent.
“It’s no doubt that Razers has always been our main competitor, but that doesn’t mean we stand a higher chance of winning,” said the second-year student from the School of Humanities.
He added: “There are many halls and they all have a chance at winning, so we just have to continue working hard and hopefully it’ll pay off.”
While Razers’ will not be participating in IHCC this season, team captain Lim of Razers is already in discussions with Hall 10 president, David Lee, about amping up their recruitment efforts for next season.
These include pulling in hall seniors to form the team’s core, and calling back graduated seniors to help with training and recruiting prospective freshmen as cheerleaders even before they matriculate into NTU.
The dissolution of Razers is a huge blow for Hall 10 president Lee, 22, a second-year NBS student. “Every time I think about it, it kills me a little inside,” he said.
For Razers’ coach Fairul Hidayat, it is uncertain if he will return to coach the team even if they manage to reassemble next semester.
“If time permits, I’d love to,” said the 30-year old.
“But for now I’ve yet to move on, so giving a firm yes will be difficult because losing them again will be even more painful.”