Since the communist Pathet Lao came to power in Laos, Indochina's smallest state, almost everybody in the country has been affected by the enormous political upheaval - but the latest change the government has asked of the people has not been so serious.
GV INTERIOR: Teams playing volley ball.
SV: Children look on.
GV EXTERIOR: children playing volley ball in village.
SCU: Pathet Lao soldiers in sports gear.
GV: man teaching boys and girls volley ball movements.
SV: children playing with football
GV: women football players limbering up.
SV: Children with girl footballers.
GV: girls playing football on pitch of long grass and water (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Since the communist Pathet Lao came to power in Laos, Indochina's smallest state, almost everybody in the country has been affected by the enormous political upheaval - but the latest change the government has asked of the people has not been so serious.
SYNOPSIS: Earlier this month Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane's government announced that they would like to see more young people playing sport and that they would help with facilities and equipment if approached. Volley ball is one of the country's most popular games.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people have been taken to the Pathet Lao stronghold of Viengsay in north-eastern Laos for instruction in the ideology of the new regime, and Martin Woolacott of the British newspaper 'the Guardian' has reported that there is a danger the people of Laos may simply walk out on their new rulers if the government fails to give them a reasonable standard of living or acts too harshly. Mr. Woollacott reports that about two million of Laos' three million people live near the banks of the Mekong River which forms the border with Thailand. The lowland people of Laos and those of north-eastern Thailand are one ethnic group with one language and religion and an interchange of peoples across the river has in the past been the rule not the exception, so the government's encouragement and reorganisation of sport can be seen as one way to keep the population stable and contented.
Perhaps by concentrating people's attention on sport the government hopes to turn it away from more divisive matters like the country's economic difficulties and present guerrilla war. The Pathet Lao rulers introduced a new currency in June to try to curb inflation but the withdrawal of United States aid must have hindered the recovery of the Laotian economy much as the right-wing rebels of the Lao People's Revolutionary Front must be hindering the Pathet Lao's reform programme.