Top ten the goal for determined Poland
Poland first participated in the IKF Korfball World Championship in 1999, when they finished in ninth place. Ever present in all four tournaments since, they have not managed a better placing, and currently stand at number 13 in the IKF rankings.
Tamara Siemieniuk first played international korfball in 2008 when she was selected in Poland’s U16 team, before graduating to her first senior international tournament, the IKF European Korfball Championship 2014, in Portugal. She jokes that she has been involved in korfball in Poland since before she was born: her mother Elżbieta Siemieniuk was one of the pioneers of Polish korfball when the sport was first established in 1987, and a founder member of Polski Związek Korfballu, or PZKorf, in 1994. Tamara will represent her country again in Durban, and says the squad is looking forward to a positive tournament.
“We are an optimistic squad with good team spirit. Our general aim is to achieve a better final placing than our ranking. However, we truly believe we can make it into the top 10,” she says.
Tamara and two squad mates, Klaudia Majchrzak and Kacper Nowak, have each developed themselves as korfballers by spending time in the Netherlands in recent years, Tamara and Klaudia with LDODK and Kacper with Noviomagum.
Roelof Koopmans has been coach of the Polish national team since 2016. He has previously played and coached for several clubs in and around Friesland, including Nic, AVO Assen and DOS’46. In the past three years he has led the team, flying approximately once a month to Warsaw or Wrocław for games or training camps. He says the big difference he notices in Poland compared to the Netherlands is the size of the korfball community.
“Poland is a big land with lovely people. I believe we can make big changes in the future.
“However, with only around 50 senior players, korfball in Poland is small. That makes it difficult to plan for development. Even with a good plan, we need more people to make korfball bigger. I encourage my players to train harder and accept more responsibility for everything connected to Polish korfball. With a good plan and more people taking responsibility, korfball in Poland can and will grow,” he says.
They are already rising, reaching the final of the IKF EKC 2016 First Round, East in Nitra, Slovakia shortly after Roelof took over as coach, and winning bronze at the IKF Beach Korfball World Cup (Europe) 2018 in Blankenberge, Belgium, which Roelof rates as the biggest success in Polish korfball history.
Poland’s ninth placing a few weeks later at the IKF EKC 2018 set up qualification for South Africa.
One player whose story inspires her team mates, and everyone else, is Izabela Kołodziejczyk. In June 2016 following a routine medical check, Iza found out she had a tumour on one of her ovaries. After four months of treatment, which included an operation and chemotherapy, she was clear of the cancer. Determined to recover her fitness, and her place in Poland’s national team, Iza threw herself back into korfball, the gym and crossfit. She succeeded, and less than a year later was selected for the team when Poland hosted the World Games, in Wrocław, in July 2017.
Although Poland finished last in that eight team tournament, they were competitive in several of their matches, and the experience of playing against the world’s best was a boost for Polish korfball.
Like many of the other teams they will be up against in Durban, Poland’s national squad members are involved with the development activities of PZKorf.
“When we had the World Games here, we helped to promote korfball and the event. Some players give korfball lessons and clinics to children in schools, while others coach at their clubs. We also go to well-known localities to promote korfball to the public. PZKorf took another big step forward and is going to organise the EKC Group B in 2020, which will help add to our promotion,” said Tamara.
Looking ahead, Roelof sees that tournament as a chance for a medal.
“I hope I will still be coach next year. It would be fantastic to win a tournament with Poland. It should and could give korfball a big boost,” he said.
#TeamPOL IKF WKC 2019
1: Tamara Siemieniuk
2: Izabela Kołodziejczyk
3: Martyna Sowińska
6: Daria Diadik
7: Klaudia Majchrzak
8: Natalia Klimczyk
9: Łukasz Karpiuk
10: Rafał Diadik
12: Adam Doroszuk
13: Kamil Musialiński
14: Krzysztof Rubinkowski
16: Kacper Nowak
18: Katarzyna Tomczyk
19: Kamil Nowacki
Coach: Roelof Koopmans
Manager: Iwona Żak
Officials: Maciej Żak, Elżbieta Siemieniuk, Jacques Du Preez
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Dani Ezpeleta2019-07-22 12:09:592019-07-28 07:31:08#TheTeamFiles: Poland (IKF WKC 2019)