Feature: Miao pupils live out basketball dreams in rolling mountains

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NANNING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- For pupils in remote mountainous areas at the border of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou province, basketball offers them a chance to take a glimpse of the outside world.

And for volunteer teachers from bustling Shanghai, the students' enthusiasm for sports pushes them to make the children's hoops dreams come true.

The story began with a half-court basketball court that locals of Fulu Miao Township of Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County in Guangxi carved out in Longfen Primary School, where nearly all the students there are so-called left-behind children whose parents went to work jobs in urban centers.

It soon became a wonderland for the kids. However, for 13-year-old Dai Jiujia, like many other of his schoolmates, his interest in basketball gradually faded with no one teaching them how to play.

Luckily, since China launched its poverty alleviation campaign, volunteer teachers from China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) have taken the responsibilities one after another to train those young basketball enthusiasts, and Wei Xiaohu is one of the volunteers.

Wei, a police officer with the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection of the NIA, established the school's first basketball team, Longteng Team in June 2020.

"Honestly, they couldn't even dribble from the very beginning, yet I could see the zeal from their eyes," said Wei, who also helped raise funds to buy basketball gear for the team members.

Wei had a tough start as a basketball coach. "There were some troublemakers who didn't follow the team rules and often skipped training," he recalled, referring to Dai as a typical one, talented yet naughty.

After noticing Dai's outstanding athletic ability, Wei became a harsh coach to him, punishing him with extra physical training if he broke the rules.

It worked. Dai made remarkable progress, which also inspired other children on the team.

After several months of training, Dai represented his town in the county's basketball tournament and won the second place.

"I sent a picture of the award to my parents and they were very happy," said Dai with a shyly smile.

Now, Dai has more expectations for the future. He believes maybe one day, he can become a professional player, or take over the job of Coach Wei.

"It's a worthwhile stay for me to leave my students with healthy interests," Wei said.

Xie Yaoqian, another volunteer teacher from Shanghai, took over as the second coach of the basketball team and attracted more girls and boys to join the sport.

Living in a mountain over 700 meters above sea level, the students there rarely have the chance to go downhill. In the Miao village, there are rather few opportunities for children to see the outside world.

"The basketball team there means a lot more to the pupils than I imagined. It enables them to take a closer look to the life outside the mountains, which I believe must be beneficial to their future," said Xie. Enditem

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