by Xinhua Writers Liu Hai and He Chenyang

BUTAI VILLAGE Women's Nike Odyssey React Casual Arctic Pink White , China, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- In Butai Village, a mountainous Chinese hamlet that happens to sit on one of the most uninhabitable places on earth, basketball is one of few fun things to do - or watch.

Villagers don't fall for China's Central Television's New Year gala, though tuned in by around 690 million people this year as the most watched TV show in the world, simply because not every family owns a TV set.

Instead, they played or watched eight days of basketball during this Lunar New Year Festival - on two paris of boards borrowed from a village 10 kilometers away.

"The village committee didn't have boards or new balls. Over 30 people borrowed and carried a pair of basketball stands from another village," said Tian Xifu Women's Nike Odyssey React Gray Black , the village chief.

"Villagers bought balls themselves. With the help of well-off villagers who do business in town, the tournament became a reality."

The village of 3,500 farmers and herders saw spectators swell to 6,000, with many coming from as far as 200 kilometers away.

"Organizing an eight-day tournament isn't easy," said Tian. "I am so proud we did it. I am really glad that we put smiles on a lot of faces."

Just like in Butai, basketball is the most popular sport in other 164 villages in Haiyuan County, one of seven "state-level poverty-stricken counties" Women's Nike Odyssey React Desert Sand Sail Pink , named by the State Council, in Xihaigu, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Xihaigu, notorious for poor soil and scarce water, is on UNESCO's list of the world's most uninhabitable places.

To the surprise of many, the Butai tournament also featured foreign players.

Mbaye Cheikh, a 29-year-old Senegalese, visited the village for the first time Women's Nike Epic React Flyknit Grey White , with compatriots Ndiaye Soueybou and Diagne Thiernosn. Their slam dunks and alley-oops aroused cheers and applause from a zealous crowd.

"I couldn't believe that there are so many basketball enthusiasts in such a remote and poor village," said Cheikh, who plays for a Guangxi club in south China.

"We've heard that basketball is very popular in these villages. So we came here to participate, and I really feel the farmers' enthusiasm for the game," he added.

"It is really something new to invite foreign players to village games. I am expecting more friends from the world to come here," said Tian Xixin, a cattle herder and the major sponsor to the tournament.

"About 100 villagers involved in keeping order and people even climbed to roofs to have a better view of the game."

Tian Xifu, the village head who has been playing basketball for a decade Women's Nike Epic React Flyknit Triple Black , told reporters that this game has "magic".

"I used to pull young people away from gambling tables," he said. "Since basketball has taken root in the village, they choose playing basketball instead of gambling."

Dabeishan Village, the driest village in Xihaigu, is as enthusiastic about basketball as Butai.

"I feel completely refreshed after playing basketball," said Li Hucheng, a 60year-old farmer. "I am getting along even better with villagers with the help of the game."

A poverty-relief program built two basketball venues and a set of fitness equipment in Dabeishan, which Women's Nike Epic React Flyknit White , once called "a place where oil is more expensive than water", didn't have tap water until June 2014.

"As the living standard for rural people is rising, their enthusiasm for sports is also growing," said Gao Wenxue, the village chief.

Gao recalled problems he used to encounter in previous new year festival.

"In the village of 4,800 people, two thirds of them are migrant workers, who only come home for a few days every year Nike Epic React Flyknit White Fusion Womens , and gambling was very popular at one time," Guo said.

"I used to handle several fights in a single day during the spring festival. But now, I have been freed by basketball."

Villagers now spend most of free time on basketball instead of Mahjong table. "I don't have to worry about gambling and brawling anymore," said the village chief.

"We invited neighboring villagers to friendly matches," said Ma Jianxue, a 40-year-old farmer. "Our team is good, especially teamwork."

Zhang Shilin, a town chief who governs a few villages Nike Epic React Flyknit Pearl Pink Womens , said sports has been changing life.

"Rural people are increasingly active in sports and building health," said Zhang. "Life is changing."

ADEN, Yemen, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Shiite Houthi group said on Saturday night it had fired a new long-range ballistic missile and struck oil refineries in Saudi Arabia's Yanbu.

The Houthi rebels, through their official satellite channel Al Masirah TV, said that their armed forces fired a ballistic missile into Aramco Oil Refineries in Yanbu, a port city on the Red Sea coast of western Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni rebels claimed that the new ballistic missile Burkan-2H was used for the first time and successfully hit the refineries.

There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Saudi Arabia on the reports released by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, local residents told Xinhua that warplanes of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition struck the international airport in the western port city of Hodeida with eight strikes on Saturday night.

No immediate reports of casualties were reported.

Yemen's government Women's Nike Epic React Flyknit Cargo Khaki Black , allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for years been battling Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished country.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a mostly Arab military coalition and imposed an air and sea blockade to prevent weapons from reaching Iranian-backed Houthis, who invaded capital Sanaa militarily and seized most northern Yemeni provinces.

Statistics showed that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, most of them civilians, since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in 2015.

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