There has been a lot of discussion in the last few weeks about the governance of cheer in Australia. That is a great thing.

These are important conversations that we need to have as a community — about how our governing body (called a ‘national sporting organisation’ or NSO) should be constituted, who it should represent and how it should operate. These are conversations (and decisions) that we never got to have the first time around. But now that Gymnastics Australia has resigned its role as NSO for cheerleading (as of 19th December 2018) we have an opportunity to finally build an NSO that will be genuinely representative and genuinely focused on supporting the growth and development of cheer in Australia.


What that governing body should look like, and how it should operate, is something that should be determined by the Australian cheer community. It shouldn’t have been determined for us by Gymnastics Australia, and it shouldn’t be dictated to us by the International Cheer Union (ICU) now. 

What is ACSA doing?

ACSA is committed to establishing a new NSO for cheer, but only after input and dialogue with the whole community to ensure the best fit for our industry.

In January and early February, ACSA Board members will be holding open meetings with Gym Owners in WA, SA, VIC, NSW & QLD and via Tele conference in ACT & TAS, to seek their viewpoints on their wishes moving forward on NSO & constitution development.

Once we’ve heard from everybody, we will then finalise a proposed organisational structure and constitution and move forward with a new constitution development and timelines.

Doesn’t this need to happen by 31 December 2018?

No. Gymnastics Australia have officially ceased to be the national governing body for Cheerleading as of 19th December as evidenced by GA letter received by the ICU on 19/12/18 (see their public statement here). After that, there will be no formal governing body for cheer in Australia.

Is that ok?

It’s fine. Sport Australia does not require any sport to have an NSO to exist, and cheerleading has thrived in Australia for over a decade without an active NSO.

What is an NSO, anyway?

The purpose of an NSO is to oversee and support the development of the sport. That means doing things like:

  • providing support and guidance to operators in the industry;
  • establishing standardised rules, safety guidelines and competition standards;
  • establishing a training curriculum and accreditation process for coaches and judges;
  • represent the interests of the sporting community to government and international organisations.

ACSA was established to do these things in the absence of an active NSO. Whatever happens next, ACSA will continue to work to support the development of the sport in Australia.

The most important question

The most important question that needs to be determined by the Australian Cheer Community is who should be on the board of our governing body, and how they should they be chosen.

We think that the board of the governing body in Australia should be made up of representatives from Gym Owners, Event Producers and other key industry stakeholders (this is similar to the model that the USASF uses, where certain seats on the board are reserved for event producers, gym owners, and coaches).

ACSA is of the opinion that the board should be elected by Gym Owners and Event Producers who are the backbone of our sport.

The model being proposed by the ICU puts no requirements on the composition of the board of the governing body, and provides no information about who will ultimately get to vote (this will depend on the constitutions of the state bodies, which are yet to be written).

Federated vs Unitary

There has been a lot of discussion about federated vs unitary models.

‘Federated’ means that there would be a separate governing body for cheer in each State, as well as a national governing body. People in each state would elect representatives to run each of the state bodies, and those representatives would in turn elect representatives to run the national governing body. As the state body constitutions have not been drafted yet, it’s not clear who would get to participate in this process. This is the model that the ICU has proposed.

‘Unitary’ means there would just be one national governing body. The board of the national governing body would be directly elected by and directly accountable to the community. It’s more efficient (because you have one organisation, rather than seven) and its more representative (because representatives are elected directly, rather than through an intermediate state body). This is the model that ACSA has proposed.