It could not be more fitting that Hangzhou is one of the Host Cities of the FIFA Women's World Cup next year.
 
It goes without saying that all five venues in China have been chosen for their culture, history and infrastructure, but  Hangzhou is unique in many ways. In Marco Polo's words, it is "a heavenly city...the finest and most splendid city in the world."
 
It would be an almost impossible task to describe how beautiful the picturesque city is, as throughout its 2,000 year history, countless artists and poets, including Su Dongpo of the Song Dynasty and former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, have been drawn here, gaining inspiration from its beauty and leaving behind poetry that will endure for centuries to come.
 
For Chen Yongjie, a Local Organization Committee (LOC) member from Hangzhou, the women's game will complement the city's splendour. "It is fitting that the beautiful city will stage the beautiful game. We believe we can make it a beautiful time for everyone."
 
In the year of 1138, Hangzhou rose to prominence as it became the capital of Southern Song Dynasty, during which time 'Cu Ju', the ancient form of football, was in its early stages of development.
 
Using a leather ball and rules similar to that of today's football, Cu Ju became so popular during those years that its fans ranged from the peasants to the emperor. A famous story from the Northern Song Dynasty tells how a man called Gao Qin, who had no job or trade, was playing football. His skills caught the eye of the emperor and soon he became one of the country's most important ministers. 
 
The return of football
The football tradition was revived when Lvcheng or Green Town, started life in the second division back in 2001 representing Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province.

Five years later, they gained promotion to the Chinese Super League, backed by their fanatical supporters.

"Hangzhou has no shortage of footballing tradition and potential, but what we needed in the past was a chance to showcase our ability," said Chen. "Next year's FIFA Women's World Cup undoubtedly provides us with an excellent opportunity."
 
Despite Chen's confidence, he is feeling a little bit of pressure as time ticks away until the beginning of the tournament in September 2007.
 
"The fact that we have seven games in Hangzhou, only one behind Shanghai, highlights the importance of the venue," continued Chen. "At the moment we are working on making all of our visitors as comfortable as possible."
 
To achieve this goal, the local governaments of Hangzhou and the Zhejiang, are devoting a lot of time to make the event a success. Their joint efforts have seen the launch of the Venue Organisation Committee (VOC) that includes Logistics, Media, Reception, Finance, Security, Competition, Volunteers and Stadium departments, with a number of experts on hand to assist preparations.

The VOC is also busy organising cultural events to display the city's history during the FIFA Women's World Cup.

"We are going to stage activities in the Xi Hu Cultural Square which is located in the central city," said Chen.  "There will be games and contests and the winners will be given souvenirs. It will be something like the Fan Fests in Germany."