Catching the ball and turning around, then making a fade-away shot, 18-year-old high school senior Song Jinhong dazzles onlookers with his basketball skills.
Song lives in Xijiang Miao village, in Leishan county, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, Southwest China’s Guizhou province. The village is home to 6,432 people, most of whom are from the Miao ethnic group, and is regarded as the world’s biggest Miao village.
Since 2008, the village has focused on becoming a tourist spot, and in the summers of recent years, has welcomed around 30,000 tourists each day. But this year, only 15,000 tourists have been permitted inside because of epidemic prevention and control measures.
Near the center of the village lies the basketball court, where villagers like Song play at their leisure.
“No matter what ages the villagers are, once they step onto the court, they show huge passion,” said Li Song, the village director, adding that the villagers also stage basketball competitions at important festivals every year.
Song started playing basketball at the age of 10. He used to practice on the court which is a 10-minute walk from his home. But after moving to attend senior high school elsewhere in the county, he now only comes back in summer and winter holidays.
“When I am back in the village, I like to form a team with my friends, then play against other villagers on the court,” Song said, adding that playing basketball not only strengthens his body, but also gives him the opportunity to make new friends.
Song is not alone. More and more villagers have fallen in love with basketball, and several months ago many of them raised more than 130,000 yuan ($19,000) to build a new basketball court on a hillside.
“The villagers have lately been secretly preparing an event. I guess it must be a basketball competition,” Li said.
Song’s family also opened their purse to help fund the construction of the new court. In his opinion, it was good for the villagers to build the court to exercise, indicating that they have realized the importance of sports to their health.
“Most villagers had not done sport for a long time as they had to stay at home almost until the end of March, when the epidemic was gradually brought under control in Guizhou,” he said, adding that villagers’ lives have come back to normal, and playing basketball with each other outside on the court is meaningful.