Number of active players: 300
Notable beach tournaments: Sandslash (Dębki), Baltic Beach Contest (Gdańsk)
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU 2011 (mixed division)
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Mixed, Open, Women
Although Poland is one of the youngest established ultimate countries in Europe, origins of the sport date back to the late 90s, when a group of foreigners started to throw around a disc in Poznań. The boost to the development of ultimate was given in 2005 when the first teams were formed. During the last 8 years, Poland has experienced not only staggering progress from its oldest teams, but also a substantial growth in the number of new players. Each year, more and more tournaments are organized in cities all over Poland.
There’s quite a funny story about the Polish National Team tryouts, which were supposed to be held in Warsaw in the end of March. Unfortunately, spring had not yet sprung and the whole town was covered with snow. The captains of the three teams and other organizers waited as long as they could for the weather to change, but it didn’t until the deadlines of sending the rosters and paying fees approached. Needless to say, there was no field or beach where the tryouts could have taken place, so three captains were left to decide on their own. It took them a few days, and all the people that made it to the National Team had very little time to celebrate, because they were urged to pay the money within just a few days!
As the above story shows, Poland’s location doesn’t give too many advantages for playing beach ultimate. Although Poland borders on the Baltic Sea in the north, there is only one team from Gdańsk that could train on the beach regularly (most players live quite far away from the seaside). But the distance is not the biggest problem; in order to fully enjoy oneself playing beach ultimate one thing is required that gives the most energy – the sun. That is why one can only truly enjoy Polish beach ultimate in the mid to late summer, because during most of the year the conditions are not quite as pampering.
There are 2 beach tournaments held in Poland annually: Sandslash (since 2008) and Baltic Beach Contest (since 2011). Both take place at the Baltic Sea. Apart from playing at these tournaments in Poland, players and teams often attend international beach tournaments.
The mixed division is still the core of Polish ultimate. When the teams started in 2005, they were formed as mixed teams as there wasn’t yet any possibility to play open and women. A few years back, everything started to change. There were several ups and downs forming the first open and women teams (naturally, girls had more trouble forming one). The name, jerseys and roster changed several times over the last 3 years, but finally a group of girls from Warsaw managed to establish Troubles. The second women’s team, named Whatever, provides great competition to Trouble and consists of experienced girls from all over Poland. As for the open teams, there is currently Uprising – a group formed by guys from Warsaw and Poznań, Girls Stay Home (formed by guys from various cities) and the Warsaw Open Team (which is making its debut this season).
For the first time ever, open and women national teams will represent Poland at the European Championships, and in July, Poland will have its first Open and Women National Outdoor Championships. Let’s take a look at the three Polish teams in the ECBU contingent this year:
A strong team with experience from WCBU 2011 led by captain Mikołaj Smogór (aka Smok – pol. dragon) – a skillful player from Grandmaster Flash (mixed, Warsaw). During the World Championships in 2011 they finished 7th and now (with a few changes in the roster) the goal is to beat the rank. Preparing for ECBU 2013, they took part in a weekend-long training camp on a beach near Warsaw and went to the Goldstrand tournament in Germany, finishing in the 1st place. It was a tough tournament due to strong wind and rain which gave a few of the players a week-long cold. In spite of that, the team had a lot of fun and learned a few lessons, also getting to know themselves better on the field. This team puts a lot of emphasis on experience, as most players represent the so called ‘old generation’ of Polish Ultimate.
Led by a very ambitious athlete Maciej Grabowski – he played in the mixed division at WCBU 2011, gained experience in Grandmaster Flash (mixed, Warsaw) and is now one of the key players in Uprising (open, Warsaw/Poznań). Sport is a big part of his life, thus he carefully prepared himself and the team for this outdoor season during the last few months. If not playing Ultimate, he would go for handball. The Open National Team consists of 13 distinguished players from all over Poland. Preparing for ECBU, they had their final test at BUM in Berlin and finished in the 6th place.
The women’s team is in the hands of Magdalena Szwed – a player from Furious Goats (mixed, Poznań), with whom she won the Polish Nationals in 2010 and 2011. She also qualified for EUCR 2013 with Whatever (women). There are 13 girls on the women’s team eager to show that this division is rapidly developing in Poland and has an enormous potential. This team is generally a mix of very experienced girls and a few rookies (these “rookies” have about 3 years of experience, but are very ambitious and love to layout). Motto? Absolutely no mercy in defence. They hope that good results will inspire other girls to form new teams and create an impressive stage of women’s ultimate that will compete nationally and internationally.
Article by Paulina Kowalska and Ewa Banbula-Dyda