A new scheme focusing on people living in rural
China will be a first as has nothing at all to do with
tractors, acreage or collectivization -- it's about basketball and
China is to embark on a program which will result in a major
increase in sporting facilities across the countryside, explained
Feng Jianzhong, vice-minister of the State General Administration
of Sport (SGAS), at a press conference in Beijing yesterday.
According to the SGAS program, there'll be at least one
standard, cement surfaced basketball court constructed in each
village involved in the program. The courts will be equipped with a
pair of standard basketball stands and two outdoor ping-pong tables
will also be supplied.
It was anticipated that these facilities would lead to the
formation of more local sports and health clubs and result in
village tournaments being organized, said Feng.
This is one of the projects being undertaken in rural areas as
part of the Chinese Five-Year Guidelines for 2006-2010.
Observers have noted that never before have "mass sporting
activities" been such an integral part of government planning in
But it's not a strange concept for Guo Min, director of the
Sport-for-All Department of the SGAS. "While China's elite athletes
are collecting medals at various world events the fitness of
ordinary people should not be forgotten," Guo said.
It is planned that by 2010, one-sixth of Chinese villages or
around 100,000 of them, will have these facilities which will be of
benefit to approximately 150 million farming people.
"Our program aims to improve farmers' health and enrich their
cultural lives," added Feng.
Figures drawn from an official survey in 2003 show that of the
850,000 sports fields in Chinese mainland some 70,000, or just 8
percent, are scattered around rural areas.
When explaining why basketball courts and ping-pong tables were
chosen to start the rural sports program, Feng explained that
research showed rural citizens' favorite sports were basketball and
ping-pong. "We have just followed what the farmers told us they
needed," he said. "Moreover, a cement-paved basket court can also
be used for other sporting activities," added Feng.
At the same time, Feng said, the program would not place a
financial burden on farmers as the project was government
In 2006, the National Development and Reform Commission will
provide 10 million yuan (US$1.23 million) to the program along with
more than 80 million yuan (US$9.86 million) from the national
sports authority of SGAS. Regional governments are expected to make
their contributions when additional funding is needed.
Supervisory bodies will be established to ensure the program's
progress, Feng said. Activity handbooks would be produced and
instructors trained as the program progressed, he added.
(China Daily March 30, 2006)