This month as the world sits and watches the games of the 30th Olympiad, it is reminded how impressive athletic ability is. Whether you are rooting for a rising star like Missy Franklin or a global icon like Usain Bolt, you can see the raw emotions that are released as these competitors finally reach the goal they have–in most cases–been striving for their whole lives. While the accomplishments of these stars are impressive, what is often lost amid the flashbulbs and pomp of an award’s ceremony is the simple impetus that originally drew these people forward: their love of the game. In the misty hills of Guizhou, one of WildChina’s guides wanted to provide an opportunity for a town to pursue its love of basketball.
Xiao is a tour guide for WildChina. Three and half years ago, he was hiking through the small villages of Guizhou with an American couple when he encountered a dirt basketball “court” constructed by the Miao villagers of Jiaola. Intrigued, Xiao made it a point to return after the guests had departed to shoot some hoops with the locals. Although the villagers enjoyed playing in the modest arena, Xiao was saddened to notice how primitive it was. Nonetheless, he was unable to contain his own enthusiasm for basketball, and it was not long before Xiao was posting up and draining buckets. In the heat of the game, Xiao unfortunately sprained his knee very badly. Initially, Xiao was concerned that he would be unable to hike out the next day, however a shaman approached him and said he could help. During the night, the shaman used his skills in traditional Chinese medicine to heal Xiao’s knee, and in the morning, the guide was able to depart. To repay the Jiaola villagers for their kindness, Xiao decided let’s “Just Do It,” – let’s raise that money and build this community a proper basketball court.
Under the guidance of the village elders, supplies were carried up to the village, and in only 15 days, the court was finished. Since its completion, the basketball court’s use has increased dramatically with local players reporting that they visit the court every day to work on their game. Festivals are extremely important to the Miao people, and as Xiao mentions in the video, basketball is a type of festival; the fun it provides calls for celebration in and of itself. Beyond the glammer of the paparazzi, Xiao gave the Miao all they needed for a new festival, a space to enjoy their love of the game.
If you have any questions about travel in Guizhou, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by WildChina travelers.