"We're going there to play football, not for a nice break," said Grzegorz Kowalski as he seeks to lead Dolnośląski to a second amateur title in the Republic of Ireland.
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Two-time UEFA Regions' Cup winners Veneto are the inspiration for Dolnośląski coach Grzegorz Kowalski as he looks to lead the Polish side to a second amateur title in the Republic of Ireland this summer.
Having lifted the inaugural UEFA Regions' Cup in 1999, Veneto again won the top prize in amateur football last time out – in 2013 – to give Kowalski's team something to aim for as they pursue a repeat of their 2007 finals success in Bulgaria.
"They are sort of an inspiration for us," explained the coach, whose squad outstripped opponents from France, FYR Macedonia and Romania to reach the June/July finals. "I think my team have the potential to win it again. We have plenty of ideas of how to play, depending on the situation and the opponent. I usually play an attacking game, but sometimes we go more defensive and mix it up."
A UEFA Pro licence holder, Kowalski is a coach educator and also in charge of fourth-tier outfit Ślęza Wrocław, where he has recently seen one of his top players – Paweł Zieliński, older brother of Udinese Calcio's Piotr Zieliński – picked up by a professional side.
"He played for Dolnośląski in the national competition in Poland and is now one of the best players in the Ekstraklasa at Śląsk Wrocław," explained the coach, who was a defender for Lotnik Wrocław, Śląsk Wrocław and Ślęza, also playing abroad in Germany and Malaysia . "Some people even think he deserves a senior cap. That shows that, even playing amateur football, you can make that leap into the professional ranks."
For the moment, Kowalski's players are very much in the amateur realm; of his leading men, goalkeeper Jarosław Krawczyk works in a bank, defensive kingpin Jacek Mądrzejewski is a senior director at a shopping centre, while impressive forward Jakub Jakóbczyk is studying physical education.
However, their mentor is determined that Dolnośląski show professional commitment at the finals. "It is not like a holiday in Egypt," the 52-year-old said. "We are going there to play football, not to have a nice break. We will do our very best."