Cheerleaders At 60 Plus
Big Issue|Issue 297
Japanese seniors add sparkle during COVID-19
Elaine Lies

Meet Japan’s senior cheer squad, Japan Pom Pom. A little different from other cheerleading squads, all members are aged 60 to 89. Originally started with five people 26 years ago, the elderly – but no less energetic or enthusiastic – troupe has just resumed practicing after a year off due to the pandemic.

Pompoms rustle and silver shoes flash as Japan Pom Pom moves to a lively cheer dance beat. With members aged 60 to 89, this is no ordinary squad. But don’t you dare call them grannies. “Right at the start, we weren’t very happy about being called ‘granny cheer dancers’, ” says Fumie Takino, the bubbly, energetic 89-year-old woman who founded Japan Pom Pom (average age, 72 years) more than 25 years ago.

At weekly practice sessions, resumed after a year off, mask-wearing members check temperatures before stretching then move into their dance routines –socially distanced, of course.

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