Cheerleaders spark debate in Hyderabad too

April 25th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, April 25 (IANS) The cheerleaders at India Premier League (IPL) matches have sparked a debate in Hyderabad too, with women’s groups joining in the criticism. Opinion on the cheergirls - particularly their attires - among cricketers and social activists is sharply divided. But some women’s organisations are clear that the cheergirls at the cricket matches amounts to “exploitation of women”.

Some cricketers and even social activists, however, feel the cheergirls are nothing more than that - cheering girls, leading spectators to cheer and lending some glamour to the game.

“We are thinking of staging protests. We will meet other women groups to chalk out our action plan,” V. Sandhya, leader of Progressive Organisation of Women (POW), told IANS.

Maharashtra is already considering a ban on cheerleaders’ performances during IPL matches, following objections from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other parties in the state.

Hyderabad, which has so far hosted two matches, will stage five more matches over the next four weeks.

A group of Australian cheerleaders has been brought by Deccan Chargers for their matches in Hyderabad and other centres.

Indian selector and former cricketer Venkatpathy Raju feels that cricket faces no threat from the cheerleaders.

“It adds little glamour and there is nothing wrong as long as it is not overdone,” Raju told IANS.

He added that the cheerleaders’ performance would not damage the reputation of the game. “I don’t have any problem with that,” he said.

“I watched the Twenty20 World Cup matches and people were enjoying it (cheerleaders’ performance). They were also part of it,” he said.

“It is already there in rugby matches and NBA. It has been around for quite sometime, but I don’t know how people in India will take it. Everybody has their own opinion,” he said.

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, a member of Deccan Chargers, has opposed it, saying the cheerleaders were a distraction for the players. He said it went against the culture of the sub-continent and should not be allowed as “families come to the stadium to enjoy cricket, which itself is a big entertainer”.

Women’s groups, protesting the performances, say the IPL organisers are blindly imitating other cultures.

“Why should the Indian cricket management engage ballroom dancers? This is unnecessary. The spectators in the stadium and TV viewers are interested in cricket. So, for whom this entertainment is being arranged?” asked Sandhya.

“This is nothing but exploiting women. This is the first time we are watching this in India. Like many other things, cricket has also been turned into an event management. The game has also become an entertainment event for big companies,” she remarked.

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