Girls attending a rugby clinic in the Kim Boi district of Vietnam's Hoa Binh Province. AFP
Barefoot and muddied, a group of youngsters sprint across a makeshift pitch in rural Vietnam, passing the ball in a game of touch rugby in a country where few people have ever heard of the sport.
They belong to Vietnam's only rugby programme for locals, rolled out for kids in a remote commune where some players have to travel by boat to training sessions often held against a backdrop of rice terraces and curious onlookers
Few knew anything about rugby when they joined the scheme, marvelling at the egg-shaped ball, but are now keen fans planning to closely follow the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which starts in September.
"I haven't watched international rugby... but if possible I will surely watch the Rugby World Cup," said 14-year-old Bao Cham, a player on the Silver Fox team in Kim Boi district.
First time on a plane
Launched in 2015, the ChildFund Pass It Back programme is aimed at teaching youngsters life skills, with lessons on health or planning for the future interspersed with rugby training sessions.
Girls taking a break during a rugby clinic in the Kim Boi district. AFP
The players aged 11 to 16 meet regularly on weekends to play touch rugby, which has none of the full-contact version's heavy tackling.
There are more than 6,100 players and coaches in the programme today, more than half of them female, in Vietnam, Laos, East Timor and the Philippines.
Some players will go to Japan in March with ChildFund — travelling by plane for the first time — for rugby training and life-skills sessions.
Rugby coach Bui Thi Lan, centre attending a rugby clinic in the Kim Boi district. AFP
Battling inequality wasn't the only hurdle.
There was no vocabulary in Vietnamese for the sport and some terms were coined on the fly.
A scrum is "mai rua" which means 'turtle shell' in Vietnamese, while the name for rugby is simply "bong bau duc", which translates to 'oval ball'.
Rugby was not always so foreign to Vietnam, though it has never been widespread among locals.
Today there are no professional Vietnamese-born players abroad — though France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc is of Vietnamese origin — and just a small group of expatriates playing recreationally in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Now Vietnam's budding young rugby stars hope the sport will start to gain popularity.
"I really wish that Vietnam would participate in Rugby World Cup one day, and I hope to be a member of that team," coach Bui Van Nhan, said.
Nguyen Thai Binh swaps his flip flops for bulky boots ahead of snowboarding practice on the sand dunes of southern Vietnam — the unlikely training ground for the country's fledgling winter athletes with mountain-sized ambitions.
A pair of five-seater helicopters to offer passengers aerial views of the limestone towers, cruise ships and the odd houseboat dotting Ha Long's green waters for the maiden flights on Friday.
Rainbow-coloured hot air balloons ferried giddy visitors over Vietnam's ancient city of Hue on Sunday for a festival organisers hope will kickstart a passion for flying in the tourist hotspot.
Emma Corrin even swapped her crown for a bonnet for the event.
‘We could keep the numbers down and do something that we love,’ says bride Lisa Higgins.
The media quoted Hori, 36, as saying that what prompted him to this strange routine of sleeping was that he found that 16 hours were not enough to achieve everything he wanted to do in one day, and to enjoy his life.
Frenchman Nathan Paulin embarked on a dangerous adventure in Paris on Saturday, after completing a 600-metre tightrope crossing between the Eiffel Tower and a building on the other side of the Seine, drew applause from a watching crowd in Paris.