These girls, aging from 12 to 15, are mostly from Muong ethnic minority groups in Hoa Binh province. Looking at their skills, it’s hard to believe that they have played rugby for only two years thanks to a programme called ChildFund Pass it Back, led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women Win.

Bùi Thị Hồng Loan, a tenth-grade pupil in Kim Boi district, has a passion for sports. Her adverse family circumstances stopped her from joining a professional sports team. Yet, she is leading a group of five girls representing Vietnam to depart for Belfast in Northern Ireland, the UK to participate in the ChildFund Pass It Back Cup, in the build up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 on August 16.

Sports access is limited for children in remote areas, especially female kids due to a shortage in facilities, human resources and gender bias in some sports. Therefore, rugby, which has little gender bias in Vietnam, has attracted all sorts of kids.

Children can also learn useful life skills through the sport, such as team-work, leading and first aid, among others.

Since its launch in late 2015, the project has attracted more than 3,000 children from Southeast Asia, including 1,400 from Vietnam, with girls making up more than 50 percent.

The project is underway in Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines and is set to expand among the countries and in the region, creating an equal and healthy playground for both boys and girls.-VNA