On the occasion of International Women's Day, four well-known women from Poland have been unveiled in Warsaw and Gdansk as the latest Friends of UEFA EURO 2102 in the co-host nation.
Three of them – Grażyna Torbicka, Beata Pawlikowska and Janina Ochojska – appeared on Poland's breakfast television show Kawa czy Herbata (Tea or Coffee), while Natalia Partyka received her nomination in Gdansk.
Partyka is a table tennis player who was born without a right forearm and competes in both Paralymic and able-bodied tournaments. The 21-year-old has became extremely popular both in Poland and internationally, after participating in both the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the subsequent Paralympic Games.
"I think the EURO is a fantastic opportunity, not only for Gdansk but for our whole region," said Partyka, after her Friends of EURO nomination was rubber-stamped by tournament director Adam Olkowicz at Gdansk's newly built stadium. "If I am asked by a foreigner whether it is worth coming here for EURO, I will definitely say 'yes'. We will not only have EURO matches to offer; the Gdansk area also offers beautiful beaches and many other attractions."
The other three new Friends of EURO were introduced in the Warsaw TV studio in the company of Polish Football Federation (PZPN) president, Grzegorz Lato. "What would we do without women?" he said. "During my footballing career in Canada [1984-1991] I saw many young girls play football, including my own daughter."
Grażyna Torbicka, a Polish TV presenter who specialises in documentaries, added: "I've been involved in sport since my childhood. My father used to take me as a child to a place in Ledziny [the southern Polish city] where a new football pitch had been built. Now I am proud to be recognised as a Friend of EURO. I hope all the preparations for this unique tournament will go ahead as planned, and even if there are some difficulties we Poles will club together and get everything done. I am proud to be part of this fantastic event."
Torbicka appeared in the studio wearing an FC Barcelona scarf. "I love the football [Barcelona] play," said the 51-year-old, ahead of the Spanish club's UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against Arsenal FC. "It's nice to watch, their style is very intelligent."
Beata Pawlikowska, a travel writer and broadcaster, said she has encountered football in every corner of the world she has visited. "In each and every country there are two things that move people – music and football," Pawlikowska said. "Before travelling it is always worth getting to know the names of the most famous players and coaches. If you know them, you are everyone's friend."
As head of Polska Akcja Humanitarna (Polish Humanitarian Action), Janina Ochojska has also trotted the globe and she agreed with Pawlikowska about the ubiquity of the beautiful game. "From Chechnya to Sudan I have seen people playing football," she said. "It's fantastic. I may not be a huge football fan, but I come from Zabrze and, like many of us, I was fascinated by [1970s Polish football star and fellow Friend of EURO] Włodzimierz Lubański."
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