Game changers
Editorial  ·  2024-06-18  ·   Source: NO.25 JUNE 20, 2024

The mere mention of the word "countryside" used to conjure up images of a dull, rustic life. But things are changing fast. Several trendy sports events that have emerged in China's rural areas are becoming national phenomena, shattering long-held stereotypes.

To celebrate the annual Dragon Boat Festival, which commemorates the ancient patriotic poet Qu Yuan from the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.) on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, or June 10 this year, dragon boat races were organized nationwide.

The boat race, nothing short of a visual spectacle, has evolved into a sport with extensive local engagement, as well as a major attraction for tourists. But the races are just one part of the trending athletic scene.

During the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, the quarterfinals of the second edition of the Cunchao, or Village Super League, soccer tournament in Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province, kicked off in style. This year, 62 teams composed of local villagers competed in the Cunchao, which started in January and is slated to conclude in July. Last year, the inaugural edition of the competition with 20 participating teams first went viral on social media and then made headlines nationwide.

With no entry fee, spectators flocked to the county's stadium for every match. All matches were livestreamed on social media. The stands were often packed to capacity, with enthusiastic supporters even resorting to squatting on the ground to catch the action.

In Taijiang, another county in Guizhou, the annual village basketball tournament has also become a smash hit since 2022. Its exceptional success has inspired similar events nationwide.

These amateur sports events not only add color to the lives of rural residents, but also contribute to local income growth due to the influx of tourists.

Rural revitalization, a strategy introduced at the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress in 2017, promotes the economic prosperity and overall development of rural areas. It builds on the success of the nationwide poverty alleviation campaign, which succeeded in eradicating absolute poverty in late 2020. This initiative involves developing rural industries, creating a pleasant living environment, promoting civility and effective governance, and improving rural residents' living standards. Cultural progress is among its priorities.

Sports are necessary in fostering social development through teamwork and healthy competition. Their growing popularity is a positive sign of rural revitalization.  

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