The huge sports event – the 2017 World Games – is getting closer. It is already known that American football is one of four invitational sports in this competition, which will be held in Wroclaw, Poland, 20–30 July 2017.
In the American football tournament, four nations will battle for the trophy – Poland, Germany, France, and the USA.
In the next few articles, we are going to introduce all participants, beginning with the host nation – Poland.
Introducing Team Poland
Despite the fact that American football is a very young sport in Poland, in comparison to the USA, Germany, and France, it is very popular in Poland.
National League of Poland has established in 2006 with four competing teams. Now, there are more than 80 teams in four senior and two junior leagues. It is worth to mention that Polish national team exists only four years – it is founded in 2013, and that fact makes them one of the youngest American football national team in whole Europe.
Preparations for the 2017 World Games started almost three years ago. Since September 2015, team Poland has played seven preparatory games, against Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, and the Netherlands. They defeated Belgium, Russia, and the Netherlands, but lost against Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, and Hungary.
The preparations were generously supported by the Polish Ministry of Sports and Tourism. It allowed to hire a top-notch coaching staff and made it possible to host numerous training camps in Olympic preparation facilities.
Coaching staff selected 45 players which will compete at this year’s World Games. 42 of them play in the Polish League of American Football (PLFA), and only three players are members of European clubs from abroad (New Yorker Lions, Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, and Paris Mousquetaires). Interestingly, most athletes come from PLFA champion Panthers Wrocław – 16 in total. Among others, there are 5 from Warsaw Eagles, 5 from Tychy Falcons, 4 from vice-champion Seahawks Gdynia, and Kickoff from Primacol Lowlanders Białystok.
The complete 45-man roster you can check here.
Head Coach is Brad Arbon (1976), who is also Offensive Coordinator. He is the former German National Team Offensive Coordinator, former Boise State Broncos player and Utah Utes coach. Defensive Coordinator is Sebastian Tuch (1975), former NFL Europe player, three-time European Championships medalist, World Championships medalist, former German National Team DBs and Special Teams Coach. Olaf Werner (1966), who is former GLF player and currently PLFA coach, will handle the special team.
Besides them, there are a lot of positioning coaches. The list is as follows:
- Filip Pawełka (1976) – WR coach, former NCAA, and NFL Europe player;
- Joachim Ullrich (1976) – QB coach, winner of the World Games in Duisburg 2005 as German national team starting quarterback;
- Eugen Heidt (1974) – OL coach, former player, coached in Frankfurt Universe and Marburg Mercenaries;
- Mario Campos Neves (1977) – TE coach, Alabama Crimson Tide coach;
- Michał Latek (1981) – DL coach, former Vienna Vikings player, Vienna Vikings coach;
- Sean Averhoff (1984) – LB coach;
- Tobias Ochs (1984) – DB coach;
- Jakub Samel (1988) – the assistant of the offensive coordinator, RB coach;
- Michał Kołek (1988) – the RB assistant coach;
- Zygmunt Łodziński (1989) – the OL assistant coach;
- Paweł Klawender (1983) – the DL assistant;
- Łukasz Niedzielski (1983) – the LB assistant coach;
- foreign coaches are surrounded by Polish assistant coaches.
Participation in the 2017 World Games for the Polish National Team is another milestone in American football growth in Poland.
“It’s a showcase for our sport and great opportunity to popularize it in Poland and Europe. It’s worth mentioning that all four matches will be broadcast live on the biggest Polish sports channel – Polsat Sport HD.”
Poles don’t want just to compete with world’s American football powerhouses, but they intend to be competitive and fight for medals. “We are well aware of our rivals strengths, but our minor goal is to be the best-prepared team for this event. A major goal is to advance in the gold medal game.”
Regarding the future of American football in the Olympic Games, Poles are skeptical, but also they think that some alternative form of football will get a chance.
“There are very slight odds that American football will ever make it in the Olympic Games due to a non-tournament character of our sport and a tremendous amount of athletes, coaches or staff in every team. ‘Abbreviated’ football, i.e. 7 vs 7 or flag football, has a bigger chance than football in ‘canonic’ version,” they concluded.
Poland will play against France in the second semifinal match on 22nd July. Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.
Photo: www.polska.plfa.pl (Marcin Warpechowski)