Lower-league football in Bulgaria: Tundzha Yambol vs. Chernomorets Burgas

On a hot October Saturday, as a scrum of players lunged for the ball bouncing head-high in the midfield, a match in Bulgaria’s Third League – a 71-team competition divided into four regional groups – played out in the universal rhythm of amateur football: frenetic and slow at the same time.

On some rusty blue benches between the changing rooms and the stadium’s running track, 40 spectators chatted and nibbled pumpkin seeds, half-watching their friends and relatives exhausting themselves on the pitch.

In an early-evening, early-autumn kick-off at Nikolai Laskov Stadium in the town of Yambol, the game between Tundzha Yambol and Chernomorets Burgas – mid-table rivals in the south-east group of the Treta Liga – ended in a 3-0 win for Chernomorets. The visitors were by far the better team, and scored through an own goal before half-time, then impressive goals by Martin Dimitrov and Milen Tanev in the second half. … More Lower-league football in Bulgaria: Tundzha Yambol vs. Chernomorets Burgas

Russia’s most (geographically) extreme places – Russia Beyond

Coming to Russia, you soon realise that it is a little more extreme than you expected. This is especially true for its geography: just when you think the country has reached its limits, it always goes a little further. Here are eight places in Russia where you really can take life to extremes. Do you have a journey to one, or even all of them on your wish list? … More Russia’s most (geographically) extreme places – Russia Beyond

Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia) – Russia Beyond

“The Rinpoche Bagsha temple crackled with the deep murmur of Buddhist prayer. Under the warm gaze of a golden cross-legged Buddha, eight monks in crimson robes sat at a low table in the centre of the room, ethereal chants bursting from their throats. A bell tinkled. During the final prayer the congregation, squeezed together on benches close to the monks, picked up parcels of food and waved them in front of themselves in clockwise circles. The bell tinkled one last time”. … More Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia) – Russia Beyond

Swing Lelo: Georgia and Britain’s shared rugby history

For Georgia to have a sporting team ranked 12th in the world is an achievement to be proud of. For that sport to be rugby union, a game born in England’s elite schools, and kept within the British Commonwealth for over a century, makes it an even more outlandish feat. The rise of Georgian rugby is one of the great stories in European sport over the last 20 years, with the national team going from unknowns to World Cup mainstays. Along the way, Georgia may not have battled the British nations on the pitch as often as it hoped to, but the countries’ rugby histories have been closely linked in other ways. … More Swing Lelo: Georgia and Britain’s shared rugby history