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Poland: aiming to break the ceiling

Polish sevens team exceeded all expectations in Kazan. The team finished 4th in Kazan, and.again qualified for the World Series qualifier, a performance that encouraged Jacek Główczyński from Polish news website Tromiasto to ask coach Janusz Urbanowicz what his team need to take the next step. 

Poland’s performance last weekend was remarkable - particularly when their hopes before the Saturday had seemed to be to just defend their place in the elite, because after the first tournament they were 10th. But – admittedly with the assistance of some weakened opposition squads- they achieved their best ever result in the Grand Prix Series (previously his was sixth) and also ended one place higher in the result in the overall classification (in 7th place). In addition, for the first time in history they beat Wales, Ireland and England.

How did the team achieve this unexpected success, and can they build on this?

“We are at a high level, and here small things make a big difference,” says Urbanowicz. “We are in an elite the group of teams from the top 20 in the world. It's nice that they appreciate us and invite you to serious tournaments. We were in Australia and Hong Kong,

“However, I think that within our current resources we have reached the ceiling of possibilities. To break it, we have to make further changes. We will try to do this, we keep trying, but it is extremely difficult”.

How could they break through the ceiling?

“Finance has an impact, but passion is the most important thing. If it all works together, we can break through. We still need some time. With a good luck, if most players are healthy, we may be able to advance to the World Series next year. But in order for it to succeed and to maintain that success, we must have facilities. There are so many tournaments that the team cannot be based on just 12-15 players. We need a squad of about 40.

When two years ago you started working with staff, how many of your players were at an international level, and how is it now?

“I always had a squad of 12, but I knew from the start that they were not all are full-fledged internationals. Currently, all of the players are fearless. Of course, some are better, others a bit weaker, but I can count on every one.

"New players are also entering the team all the time. Sometimes I have to throw them in at the deep end, because of changes forced on me by injuries. For example, this year five players were lost from the team in Gdańsk because of this reason. In their place came other girls from other clubs, whether from Poznan, or from Ruda Śląska and they managed.

“The problem is slowly starting to occur, when the team is to be limited to 12 players, because there are more of players at a good level than there are places in the squad. However, overall we do not have more than 20 quality players.

If you qualified for the World Series, would the players be able to reconcile these increased responsibilities with their work or study?

“Indeed, this would be a huge problem. Even today, the squad members have about 100 days a year, which they spend on training camps and trips related to tournaments. We try to combine to fit these in with their professional duties or studies. Domestic camps, for example, we do on weekends. “

Is there any money for the players?

“Those who achieved 6th place in Kazan a year ago got a scholarship – which they get if they finished in the top eight, and the higher they finish the bigger the scholarship. That's about a thousand zlotys a month for each of the 14 players. However, not all of them are available at the moment- for Kazan there were only eight of them due to injury. The other team members do not have a scholarship.”

POLAND team: Karolina Jaszczyszyn, Anna Klichowska, Hanna Maliszewska, Marta Nowosz, Monika Pietrzak, Julianna Schuster (all White and Green Ladies Gdańsk), Agnieszka Kowalczyk, Natalia Pamięta, Katarzyna Paszczyk Katarzyna (all Black Roses Posnania), Sylwia Witkowska, Angelika Singel ( both AZS AWF Warsaw), Kinga Karlińska (Diablice Ruda Śląska)