Football in Poland is not just about Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczęsny, Krzysztof Piątek and the sides fighting it out for the domestic title. It is a passion for everyone, at all levels of the game. Football For All (‘Piłka dla wszystkich’), an initiative launched by the Polish Football Federation (PZPN) in August 2018, has demonstrated that anyone can enjoy football, irrespective of age, gender, ability or physical condition.
Testament to this fact are people like 65-year-old Jerzy Falkowski, who has played the beautiful game since 1964 and still turns out as a goalkeeper, and a mother-and-daughter partnership, Martyna and Klaudia Brdej, who both take to the pitch in the colours of UKS 3 Staszowka Jelna. They are living proof of how football can be enjoyed regardless of age and how it can strengthen family bonds.
Football For All, which is a project of the PZPN’s Grassroots Department, is the perfect platform for showcasing such extraordinary stories. “We want to show Poles specific examples of how much joy and benefit this simple sport can give people”, said Maciej Sawicki, PZPN General Secretary.
The PZPN Grassroots Football For All channels can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. They have joined other official channels of the federation, including ‘Łączy nas piłka’“(United By Football) and ‘PZPN Puchar Polski’ (the PZPN Polish Cup), which currently gather 2.5 million followers. “Those last two channels mainly focus on professional football, but this new project gives us the opportunity to take a more in-depth look by incorporating those who get great enjoyment and pure joy from playing football,” added Sawicki.
“Let’s not forget that football is one of the fairest sports out there; it is accessible to everyone, irrespective of your gender, age, talent, physical condition, where you live or your financial situation. We’ve conducted research, along with Deloitte, that shows around three million people play football once a month in Poland. We want to increase that number,” concluded Sawicki.
With those sentiments in mind, reporters working for the PZPN and the Football For All project are looking for fascinating and unusual stories that demonstrate a passion for football.
Aside from our 65-year-old goalkeeper and that mother-and-daughter combination turning out for the same team, Daniel Plinski also deserves a mention. A silver medalist at the Volleyball World Championships and a gold medalist at the European Championships, the former volleyball player started playing for his local football club, Zatoka Puck, upon retiring. Another example is Patryk Malanowski who during his playing career was first a goalkeeper then a striker, going on to score 200 goals over five seasons in the lower leagues.
The Football For All project is hugely valuable as it shines a light on so many people and, like football, does not exclude anyone. Among other things, it focuses on amputee football and blind football, looking at the passion for the game those players have too. Thanks to this initiative, everyone can feel part of the same footballing family, a sentiment that is at the heart of the PZPN’s most important mission statement: United By Football!