FORMER rugby player and referee Adrian Masters has just returned from running a youth tournament in Strasbourg.
Masters, who played for Kingsbridge and Salcombe, took time off from running his news agency and post office in Hope Cove to oversee the finals of a Tag rugby competition he ran in Eastern Europe earlier this year.
Masters has been regular visitor to Moldova and Transnistria since 2010, most recently in April this year. He was accompanied in Strasburg by former team-mate Paul Dorey.
The two states – separated by the River Nistru – have had an uneasy relationship since the break-up of the old Soviet Union 20 years ago. They briefly went to war with each other in the aftermath of the break up.
Masters, working with the Council of Europe, has been trying for the last three years to bridge the gap between the two countries though rugby.
The programme aims to build confidence between the two communities and lure youngsters into the world of sport.
"Drugs, alcohol and sexual exploitation are serious issues in that part of the world, where recreational opportunities are uncommon," said Masters.
Two teams from each side of the river were treated to a tour of the city, a boat trip, a tour the Council of Europe buildings and a workshop emphasising the importance of avoiding drugs and resisting peer pressure.
The tournament was won by a team from Bender, which is administered by Transnistria.
Masters plans to run similar tournaments in future, not just Eastern Europe.
"It is hoped that this type of event can be repeated in Moldova and Transnistria, and also in other areas where conflict and poverty has taken away children's rights to a safe and healthy start in life."