China's Village Super League vows to go global in 2028

(Xinhua) 09:19, June 20, 2024

GUIYANG, China, June 19 (Xinhua) -- China's Village Super League (VSL) will invite football enthusiasts from all over the world and organize a VSL World Cup in 2028 in Rongjiang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, local authorities said Tuesday.

The VSL, also known as "Cun Chao," was initiated in Rongjiang County in 2023. It quickly became a hit in China and globally for its popularity, down-to-earth nature and festive atmosphere.

At a football industry development symposium organized by the provincial sports bureau, Xu Bo, head of the county government, said that Cun Chao would organize international friendlies in 2024 and host friendlies with teams from Belt and Road countries in 2026.

Xu said that Cun Chao has captured local people's and football enthusiasts' attention nationwide, adding that the county is now working on attracting people worldwide to enjoy the event together.

"Our core idea is to invite folk teams from across the globe and attract more international friends to fulfill our goal of holding the World Cup together," Xu added.

Over the past year, Cun Chao has expanded its influence overseas and even captured the attention of the English Premier League and former Brazil international footballer Kaka to pay a visit.

"In Brazil, we grew up playing football on the beach, playing with friends, so football is part of our culture; what I saw here is quite the same," said Kaka during his visit to Rongjiang.

So far, around 700 football enthusiasts from 12 teams from countries including France and Liberia, have played in Rongjiang County.

In May, a friendly between the Liberia Community team from Africa and the Liaoning Donggang team from China was held at the VSL.

"There are many countries in Africa that love to play football. Through football events, Africa could better connect and unite with Rongjiang and with China," said Moses Barclay, an official at the Liberian Embassy in China, adding that he hoped that more Liberian teams, including the country's national team, could play in Rongjiang.

Cun Chao has also been replicated and promoted in villages in Benin and South Africa due to its increasing popularity.

At the end of March 2024, on a football pitch in Belle Cite Village, in Benin's Parakou, 12 village teams launched the first edition of the "African Village Super League".

During the finals of the Parakou competition at the end of May, villagers traveled on motorcycles with their children to watch the matches.

Afterwards, many enthusiasts from Parakou said they wanted to go to Guizhou, the birthplace of the VSL, to compete with local teams.

Yves Koba, the head of Belle Cite Village, praised the VSL for fostering communication and friendship among local villages. "The league has made us more united. I hope it continues and that our villagers achieve even better results next year," he said.

Xu said that, unlike professional events, Cun Chao would adhere to a different development route that requires no commercial matches and works on integrating football and culture, intending to build a sports and cultural exchange platform for people worldwide.

Rongjiang County would organize an international publicity team and select international communication ambassadors to enhance the fame and influence of Cun Chao and promote it to become a stage of the world's cultural show. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Wu Chaolan)


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