Postcard from... Mitrovica


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The Independent Online

They’ve been roughing each other for a century, but now Serbs and Albanians in this ethnically divided city in Kosovo are learning to work together through a sport all about gaining territory: rugby.

French, Irish and American trainers have helped youths from both sides of the divide to set up Kosovo Roosters Rugby Club, the country’s first.

Jeremie Zeitoun, 29, a French aid worker who gave up his job with an international aid group to focus on training the team, says they already staged two international games: one against Montenegro and the other against Albania.

“We lost the first one, we won the second one,” he said, during a recent practice. The training started a year ago, and happens every weekend.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade rejects the move and has vowed to block its former province from establishing itself as a state. Serbia has objected to Kosovo competing internationally in any sport.

For Denis Dauti, president of the club. the idea came from countries with similar divides – such as Northern Ireland or South Africa – whose opposing sides came together for the sport. “I believe we have managed to some extent,” Dauti said, glancing at the ethnic mix on the pitch. AP