New Village Super League season aims to boost int'l ties, prosperity-Xinhua

New Village Super League season aims to boost int'l ties, prosperity

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-07 21:48:16

* The new season of Chinese football's Village Super League, dubbed "Cun Chao", started on Saturday in Rongjiang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

* Cooperation between the Village Super League and England's Premier League has helped contribute to the development of football in the global community.

* The Village Super League has attracted more tourists, generated more income and boosted the development of relevant industries.

GUIYANG, China, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The eagerly anticipated new season of Chinese football's Village Super League, dubbed "Cun Chao", kicked off on Saturday in Rongjiang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

According to organizers, 62 teams registered to take part in this year's competition, whose preliminaries take place from January 6 to February 24, with the finals to be held from March to May.

In 2023, the Village Super League, featuring 20 teams, became a hit in China and the world for its popularity, down-to-earth nature and festive atmosphere.

This aerial photo taken on June 23, 2023 shows the Village Super League in Rongjiang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Photo by Wang Bingzhen/Xinhua)

It even caught the attention of England's Premier League, whose representatives visited Rongjiang and provided training for local coaches.

"I think Cun Chao is great, and I have felt the locals' great passion for football here in Rongjiang," said Graham Robinson, the Premier League's international consultant.

"Sports teach people life skills and promote people's development. So let's see what will happen in our future cooperation," Robinson added.


He Yun, a tourist from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, came to Rongjiang last summer for Cun Chao and has not been back to her hometown since. "I didn't understand football but was intrigued by the local people's passion for it. I love this atmosphere and look forward to the new season," she said.

Despite the rain, many spectators like He held umbrellas and attended the new season's opening ceremony. As players walked into the stadium, cheerleaders dressed in traditional costumes and brought iron pots and pans from their homes to strike in excitement.

Ethnic and rural cultural elements were also a highlight. Local people performed traditional Miao-style dances, and a giant dragon was hoisted and paraded in the middle of the stadium.

Players vie for the ball during a Village Super League match on Jan. 6, 2024. (Photo by Lu Zhongnan/Xinhua)

Teams are divided into ten groups in the preliminaries, with the top two in each group competing for the overall championship in the finals.

Zhang Letian said that his Bawang Village team was set up last November and consists chiefly of college students. The team has played eight friendlies without defeat and is regarded as a dark horse for the coming season.

"Strong new teams will make Cun Chao more competitive and entertaining," said Wu Huayong from the Pingdi Village team, which reached the quarterfinals last season, adding that the new season allows each team to introduce five high-level amateur players from across the province.

Lai Hongjing, a member of the Cun Chao organizing committee, said that with more participating teams, the ethnic cultural exhibition will also become ever more colorful.


"I went to Rongjiang to watch Cun Chao and was deeply impressed by the lively scenes and the number of spectators," said Warren Leat, football development manager from the British Council.

Rongjiang, with a population of 385,000, is one of China's first national football leading counties, with a registered football population of more than 1,200, and more than 70 percent of its schools provide football coaching.

For the same love of football, last September, the Village Super League and the Premier League signed a strategic cooperation agreement at the China International Fair for Trade in Services.

Warren Leat, the British Council's football development manager, conducts a training session for local coaches in a project launched by the Premier League on Dec. 12, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Xu)

In December 2023, the Premier League launched the Premier Skills project in Rongjiang County to help train local football coaches. Leat conducted a four-day training program for 44 coaches who also played in Cun Chao.

For Cun Chao player Dong Yongheng, who recently received his D-level coach certificate by the Chinese Football Association that allows for youth football training, the course taught him a lot.

"The coaches taught us to focus on trainees and adjust the teaching method by observing their learning state, and asked questions to test whether participants understand the course," said Dong.

Robinson said that the cooperation between the two leagues would contribute to the development of football in the global community and unite more people through football.

According to Xu Bo, chief of Rongjiang County, the first Cun Chao friendlies against teams from other countries are scheduled to be held in October this year.

The Village Super League is ready to invite grassroots teams from all over the world to come and share happiness with the world, Xu added.


Over the past year, Cun Chao received more than 58 billion page views online. From May 13 to October 28, Rongjiang County attracted more than 5.19 million tourists, translating to tourism income of 5.99 billion yuan (843.6 million U.S. dollars).

The booming sports activities also boosted the development of relevant industries. Sun Guoxiu, general manager of a cultural and tourism development company in Rongjiang, said that there are more than 200 types of batik products on sale, including T-shirts, cloth bags and team logos.

Sun said that 100,000 T-shirts were sold last year, and related souvenirs and sporting equipment are being developed.

A company from neighboring Hunan Province cooperated with a local enterprise to produce a carbonated beverage and sold three million bottles.

In order to make the most of the Cun Chao brand, the county has set up a brand management company, and 70 percent of the company's income will be given to village collectives.

Villagers of the Dong ethnic group wear their ethnic dress as they sing during the halftime show of a Village Super League match on June 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin)

Xu Bo said that besides the economic returns, Cun Chao has also attracted more people to play football and pursue a more ambitious life.

"When Cun Chao went viral in 2023, many villagers regretted that they had not organized a team. The new season attracted a lot of new teams to compete and chase a more wonderful life," said organizer Lai Hongjing.

(Video reporters: Liu Qinbing, Wu Siyang, Cui Xiaoqiang; video editors: Ma Ruxuan, Cao Ying, Liu Ruoshi)  


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