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Developing football in Poland

Having played in the last four UEFA European Championship final tournaments, the Polish Football Association has made progress, which it would now like to take to the next level with an ambitious long-term strategy for the sport’s future in the country.

Overview

Source: UEFA grassroots survey (2019)

The Polish Football Association (PZPN) has created a wide-ranging strategy for both the 2020–25 period and the longer-term future of its football. The main points include plans for:

  • All national teams regularly advancing to the finals of European and world tournaments.
  • Development of the PZPN certification programme for football competitions in schools.
  • Promotion of initiatives aimed at encouraging more female amateur football players.
  • An increase in social awareness concerning the role and actions of the PZPN beyond the area of league competition organisation and national team support.
  • Development of advanced analytics and exploitation of the potential of data available to the Polish Football Association.

The strategy underlines the PZPN’s transparent approach towards all its stakeholders. The aim is that a clearly defined development path for the next five years will positively influence the improvement and popularisation of football in Poland.

UEFA support

Named after the well-known slogan in Poland of ‘Football Unites Us’, the Łączy Nas Piłka IT project started in 2017 and is now in its second phase, having received ongoing support from UEFA’s HatTrick programme. Its first incarnation was aimed at increasing the registration of grassroots footballers up to 3% of the population. To achieve this, the project looks at several areas:

  • Participation strategy
    - Supporting grassroots initiatives such as the Łączy Nas Piłka TV platform aimed at children and their parents;
    - Educating coaches and players through the National Game Model 2.0 in-house software system which is designed for creating three-dimensional animated tactical diagrams;
    - Designing a coaches’ school platform to improve the quality and accessibility of coaching lessons;
    - Creating a website for new amateur tournaments, including video instructions;
    - Designing an e-learning platform for coaches to gain new skills and to monitor their progress;
    - Creating a digital asset management library of Polish football.
  • Sponsors and stakeholders
    - Developing a sponsors panel;
    - Extending the PZPN’s database;
    - Improving the ticketing system;
    - Upgrading the loyalty programme.
  • Grassroots players’ experience
    - Boosting fan engagement through the Łączy Nas Piłka 2.0 portal where all stakeholders can receive the most important content and coaching materials;
    - Creating new channels of communication via app products and social media channels.
  • Registration process
    - Extending the capacity of the IT infrastructure;
    - Implementing a new system on player statistics;
    - Developing the extranet game management system to include the most useful PZPN database information;
    - Creating new channels of communication via app products and social media channels.
  • Improvement of internal performance
    - Implementing systems to have a source of marketing documents and partner sharing information to handle all football management and administrative needs and office systems.

UEFA Foundation for Children in Poland

Set up in 2015, the UEFA Foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.

Football3 Empower Girls

The aim is to empower girls and women in football in Poland, especially at grassroots level, through football3 and cooperation with schools. Only 3% of players and coaches are female, so the project will stress that football is a game for everyone by encouraging boys and girls to play together. Playing football3 teaches the fundamental values of equality, respect and cooperation. Activities include:

• Organising football3 lessons in 33 schools in rural areas for over 7,000 children, including a minimum of 3,600 girls;

• Providing football3 training to 33 female coaches and 33 female mediators;

• Organising 33 local community football3 tournaments (in villages and small towns) promoting the sustainable development goals for over 2,000 participants;

• Organising a final football3 festival in Warsaw for 240 children (aged 6–9), at least 50% of whom are girls from rural areas;

• Creating 11 local teams (leaders, teachers and volunteers) with an equal gender balance;

• Creating three online preparatory training courses for leaders, teachers and volunteers;

• Creating an online certification course for female football3 coaches and mediators;

• Translating the online certification course into Polish.

Timeline

Football history

1894: The first documented football match in Poland takes place at Jordan Park in Kraków.
8 May 1913: In Kraków, Cracovia play Wisła in the first-ever match between Polish clubs in a league competition.
20 December 1919: The Polish Football Association is formally established in Warsaw.
1921: Poland lose to Hungary in Budapest in their debut on the international stage.
1923: Poland is admitted as a full FIFA member.
1924: National team play their first match at an international tournament, losing 5-0 to Hungary at the Summer Olympics in Paris.
1926: Wisła Kraków triumph in the first-ever final of the Polish Cup, the competition which would later become known as the Tournament of 1,000 Teams.
1934: Poland play their first match at the FIFA World Cup finals.
1946: Polonia Warsaw become the first Polish champions after the resumption of the league following World War II.
1993: Poland’s Under-16 national team wins the European Championship.
2007: Poland and Ukraine are awarded co-hosting duties for UEFA EURO 2012.
2012: Four Polish cities (Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław and Gdańsk) host games at EURO 2012.
2013: Women’s Under-17 side win European title.
2015: Warsaw’s National Stadium hosts the UEFA Europa League final.
2017: Poland hosts the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
2019: Poland stages the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
2021: The UEFA Europa League final is played in Poland again, in Gdańsk this time.

The 1982 side finished third at the FIFA World Cup
The 1982 side finished third at the FIFA World Cup©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

National team competitions

1924: Poland take part in their first international football tournament at the Paris Olympics.
1938: Featuring the legendary performance of Ernest Wilimowski, who scored four goals, Poland play their first match at the World Cup against Brazil, losing 6-5 after extra time.
1952: Following World War II, Poland return to the international scene at the Helsinki Olympics.
1972: The fantastic performances of Kazimierz Górski’s team earn Poland gold at the Munich Olympics and kick off the country’s greatest era of success.
1974: Grzegorz Lato is top scorer at the World Cup with seven goals as Poland come third by beating Brazil in their play-off.
1982: Poland finish third at the Word Cup again with another generation of talented footballers under Antoni Piechniczek.
1992: The national team reach the Olympic final against Spain in Barcelona, losing 3-2 but showing great character and quality.
2002: After a 16 year-long wait, Poland return to the World Cup.
2008: Following a fantastic qualification campaign, Poland finally make their EURO final tournament debut.
2012: Together with Ukraine, Poland hosts the European Championships – a historical moment in its history – across four stadiums in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań and Wrocław.
2016: With Robert Lewandowski as captain, Poland reach the EURO 2016 quarter-finals, the best-ever result in the competition.

Cezary Kulesza
Cezary KuleszaCezary Kulesza private archive

President

Cezary Kulesza

Nationality: Polish
Date of birth: 22 June 1962
Association president since: 2021

General secretary

Łukasz Wachowski

Association general secretary since: 2021

Polish Football Association website