|Feature: Basketball court tells tales in China's impoverished village|
//english.dbw.cn 2018-11-26 16:07:11
An early snow put Tianguai village into cold winter, but a group of villagers were still in their T-shirts playing basketball on the sole court in the village.
Playing together with the youngsters was the 60-year-old Tian Chengbiao, who received a long pass, dribbled to the net, then scored with a lay-up, winning applause from a crowd of onlookers.
"Over the past decades, no matter poor or rich, our basketball-loving villagers would spare no chance to play," said Tian.
Tian learned to play basketball at the age of 25. At that time, Tianguai was a dire impoverished village in Haiyuan County of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. There was no any basketball court, and the villagers made do with a wooden pole, a rough ring made of wires and a worn-out basketball.
"Time and again, we had to make the field wet during the game, or we would back to home with a mouth full of dust. But we couldn't let it to be slippery and we did it very carefully as water would easily be frozen into ice in winter," said Tian.
Their passion and efforts paid off. In the 1980s, the village team became the champion in a county-level farmers' basketball tournament.
Yet, a concrete court for basketball was only set up in 2015 in the village.
"I knew the villagers had been longing for a real basketball court, but we couldn't afford it. We had no money, not even a spare flat land in this mountainous area," said Yang Yanjun, the top official of Tianguai village, adding that the villagers would rather grow crops on every piece of land for a living.
After failing to shake off poverty through toils on the land, the villagers have been encouraged by the local government to begin to raise cattle and sheep, and grow apricots for higher profits recent years, and some even started agritainment for rural tourism, according to Yang.
In July, Tianguai village hosted the county's Rural Tourism Festival, with seven basketball teams from neighboring villages invited to a four-day friendly tournament.
And a synthetic basketball court was finally set up to replace the concrete one in the village, with subsidies from the local government.
"Many people from other villages come here to play basketball nowadays, and we have to go earlier, or we would only watch from the sidelines," said Tian.
No longer having to make a living away from the village, Tian takes his four-year-old grandson to the court every day, teaching him how to pat the ball and playing with the younger people himself.
"I expect more basketball matches next year," said Tian, as his basketball bumps up high, like the expectation of the villagers for the coming year.
Author： Source：xinhua Editor：Yang Fan