Tools: Save | Print | E-mail |
Projects to Give Farmers More Fitness Choices
Adjust font size:

Interviewing people from local communities and researching their sporting interests, finding venues for their activities and coordinating the building of new ones, it would be reasonable to consider this work of a whole team.


However just one man took on the job Zhao Xiaokong, who was appointed to oversee the development of local sport in Shanxi Province of north China.


Zhao is a mid-level official, the head of the "Sports-for-All" division of the provincial sports bureau. From 2003 to 2005, he took on a rural sports development project of immense scale: the Shanxi Da-Yun Sports Corridor.


The project is so named because the facilities are all built along the Datong-Yuncheng Road, a provincial expressway cutting through the heartland of Shanxi.


Zhao was responsible for developing 650 basketball courts, 25 gymnasiums, six sports clubs and installing 1,980 pieces of sporting equipment in a province known mainly for the coal and vinegar it produces.


The project was financed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State General Administration of Sport (SGAS), the national sports authority, which contributed 8 million yuan (US$980,000), along with Shanxi's local government who contributed supplementary funding.


Zhao's project serves around 2 million farmers from some 600 villages along the expressway, and has earned commendation from the central government.


The project plays an important role in the social development of the region. "Every basketball court is good for killing the business of 10 gambling dens," according to a local saying.


A national fitness program for farmers will be launched soon across the country as part of China's effort to give more education, more medical insurance and services, and more cultural choices to its rural citizens, a source with SGAS said.


Zhao's project is now held up as a national example for the farmers' fitness program. He receives many guests from all over China and provides advice on the managerial aspects of his project for the development of others. The "Western Henan Sports Corridor," for instance, is due for completion in 2009 in the western part of Henan Province, the largest agrarian province in central China.


Nationwide promotion


In 2001, according to the SGAS's national fitness survey, 17.2 percent of men in rural areas did not have adequate fitness levels, compared with 11.6 percent of laborers in urban areas. For women, the gap was even greater, with 21.2 percent not fit enough, compared with just 8.4 percent of their urban counterparts.


According to Feng Jianzhong, vice minister of SGAS, the continually improving rural economy and overall progress of society has led farmers who make up 70 percent of the nation's population to progress from being content with enough food and clothes to wanting a richer life with more meaningful pursuits.


"They are asking for ways to spend their leisure time and also to lead a healthy life," he said.


Basketball and table tennis were the farmers' favorite sporting activities. "But the existing facilities are far from enough to meet the minimum of their demands," Feng said.


Statistics from a survey of national sports fields show that among the 850,000 fields in China, only 8.18 percent are in towns and villages. According to the SGAS, the sports population in rural areas only covers 8.4 percent of the total population.


Officials have been considering ways to deal with the lack of sporting facilities in rural areas over the past few years. The Shanxi sports corridor is one of the pilot schemes. Another pilot project in Lingbao County of western Henan Province, has seen villages starting up their own basketball league, nicknamed "Our own NBA," by the locals.


With the national fitness program for farmers to be officially launched soon, standard basketball courts will appear in more and more villages throughout the country.


The program aims to bring at least one cement-paved basketball court equipped with a pair of standard basketball hoops and two outdoor table-tennis tables for each village included in the project.


Government finance will cover building costs the NDRC and the SGAS along with community support.


"The main purpose of this is to do solid work for the farmers and not to increase their financial burden," Feng said.


The SGAS hopes that by 2010 one-sixth of Chinese villages, or around 100,000 of them, will be provided with sporting facilities. This will benefit 150 million farmers, according to an SGAS policy paper.


"Man is the most precious factor of all things on earth, and the most precious factor for man is good health," Feng said.


"So we hope, as China is putting out stronger performance in international competitions, sports get more popular among all people at the same time."


Feng told China Daily that in 2005 the SGAS invested about 270 million yuan (US$33.3 million) in public sport, while 480 million yuan (US$59.2 million) was directed to competitive sport, in what he called "a balance appropriate with national conditions."


Feng did not reveal, however, how the investment allocation will be balanced in 2006.


(China Daily April 4, 2006)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail |

Username   Password   Anonymous
China Archives
Related >>
- China to Expand, Improve TV Service in Rural Areas
- Television Informs, Entertains Farmers
- Farmers to Have Chance to Slam Dunk!
- Campaign Gives Rural Areas Sporting Chance
Most Viewed >>
- White paper on energy
- Endangered monkeys grow in number
- Yangtze River's Three Gorges 2 mln years in the making
- The authorities sets sights on polluted soil
- China, US benefit from clean energy

Product Directory
China Search
Country Search
Hot Buys