Feature: British football enthusiast sees joy in China's village competition
GUIYANG, China, June 24 (Xinhua) -- David Geary of Britain, a football enthusiast born in the post-'90s generation, was amazed to see a large number of villagers playing football and organizing their own teams in a tournament in Rongjiang County, located in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
This football tournament, put together and participated in by local villagers, has been dubbed "Cun Chao" or "Village Super League" by Chinese netizens.
The festive atmosphere of "Cun Chao" and its frequent surprising world-class goal-scoring performances have caused it to go viral on China's social media platforms. It has even caught the attention of former England star Michael Owen, who recorded a video to show his support.
When Geary was a small child, his parents, fascinated by China's ethnic cultures, chose to live in Liubaitang Village, Rongjiang County. They sought out a local to teach them the Dong language. As part of a family reunion, Geary spent a semester studying at an elementary school in the village.
Recently, Geary returned to Rongjiang County to watch "Cun Chao" and support the village's football team.
Much to Geary's surprise, all the team members were local villagers, and the remaining villagers came out to cheer for their team, hoping to earn glory for the village. "I think this is what football should be like," Geary said.
According to Geary, in the early days in Britain, the entire village would gather to watch their team play football. He said the atmosphere was the same as that of "Cun Chao," creating a weekend party-like ambiance.
One key difference is that during the halftime breaks of "Cun Chao," villagers prepare local specialties and don their traditional costumes to present their unique ethnic cultures.
"It's a very good opportunity to spread local ethnic cultures. The locals make good use of it to promote Guizhou, which is also a good thing," Geary said. He added that he wants to promote Guizhou too, noting it has many aspects worth experiencing, such as the culture and the passion.
Over the years, Geary has witnessed the changes in the football pitches.
During his childhood, his father would invite some foreign friends and bring him to play football every Saturday morning. "The football pitches were just cemented grounds, and his legs were still left with scars from falling on the cinder track," Geary recalled.
Nowadays, there are ample football pitches, and all schools are equipped with them. Geary frequently enjoys games of football with friends on weekends.
This year, Geary will earn his master's degree in sports pedagogy and training theory. He is preparing to work in football training and hopes to become a university lecturer, which would enable him to influence more people.
"The young people here love football and persist in doing what they like. Now, football brings people together, which is just at the core of sports," Geary concluded.