A short history of American football in Poland.





The first official game played in Poland took place in March 2006, when the Eagles defeated a Chech team, the Pardubice Stallions, to open an international tournament held in the capital. The tournament was an organizational and promotional success, and spurred the formation of teams in other parts of the country. That November, the first (very short) season of football bagan in Poland.


Four teams, Warsaw, KFA, the Pomorze Seahawks and the Wrocław Crew took part in that opening season, with the Eagles emerging as champions. The Polish Leauge of American Football (PLFA in Polish) was immediately successful. One game in Wrocław drew over 3000 fans, and pieces on the league appered in over 100 publications and more than a television programs. The PLFA has been the main engine of growth for football in Poland since that time.


Poland The 2007 season saw the number of teams in the league grow to nine, and in 2008 the number of teams nearly doubled again, to 17. That season saw the league split into an upper division (PLFA I) and a lower division (PLFA II). The Wrocław Crew took the title in 2007, while the Warsaw Eagles won Polish Bowl III the following year.


The 2009 season was perhaps the most exciting yet, with the AZS Silesia Miners riding a strong second half all the way to the title over the Crew, a team that had run off five straight  victories to begin the season. Seven of the eight teams were still in the playoff hunt until the final round of games. The Miners will have to beat one more team in 2010 in order to repeat, as the top league expands to nine teams.


With professional commentary, cheerleaders, concession stands, fan competitions and, most importantly, growing crowds, a PLFA spectator could be forgiven for not realizing he is in Poland. The truth tells otherwise. Football in Poland is progressing by leaps and bounds, and is an attraction the whole family can truly enjoy.


While football in Poland is growing quickly, it still has a long way to go. Newcomers to PLFA are usually surprised to learn that it is very serious, organized league. The league uses the NCAA rulebook with a one-year delay in adopting rule changes. Clinics for coaches, referees and players are held throughout the season. Despite having a large number of enthusiastic players, the league still suffers from a shortage of support staff and officials. Hopefully these are just the growing pains of a league that is clearly on an upward developmental path.


Alexander Zarganis



Photos: Polish Bowl I – Warsaw Eagles vs. The Crew Wrocław; Author – Olek Pawlik.