Interview with Janusz Kozioł, Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of the City of Kraków for the Development of Physical Culture.
Let’s start a bit perversely. Can it be said that Kraków is open to disabled sport?
Definitely yes. I would like to emphasise that. Let me just remind you that the Cracovia Hall built a few years ago is the Sports Centre for the Disabled. In the city project implemented since 2018 – Ambassadors of Kraków Sport – its beneficiaries are also disabled athletes, medallists of the Paralympics, World and European Championships. We look at every sports discipline from a broad perspective. We help implement sports programmes and we are proud of that. We take special pride in Kraków’s Paralympians since Karolina Pęk from KS Bronowianka, for her it is another Paralympic success, and Maksym Chudzicki have just won medals in table tennis in Tokyo. The same refers to the Olympian, rower Maria Sajdak from AZS AWF Kraków, who at the Olympic Games in Tokyo reached for a medal in the double four for the second time.
The coronavirus situation forced the postponement of the championship tournament by a year. Finally, we lived to see it. But let’s remind you, where did the idea for the European Amputee Football Championships in Kraków come from?
The idea was born in 2018, during the World Championships in Mexico. I was watching our national team there. The red and white team narrowly missed making it to the semi-finals. The Poles lost after extra time and penalty kicks to Angola, later world champion in dramatic circumstances. It was a great emotion for all of us. It was there that we presented our city to the world amputee football authorities. I also submitted Kraków’s application to host the world championships in the future. The efforts of Kraków to organise the European Championships were already underway. We received this right in March 2019, and Kraków became the Host City of this tournament..
What arguments convinced the world authorities that Krakow is the best place for the championship tournament??
Above all, we presented our significant experience in co-organising sporting events of the highest rank. We co-organised the 2017 European Under-21 Youth Football Championship with excellent results with UEFA. As the host city for this tournament, Kraków received the highest marks from UEFA. All sports events held in our city are rated in this way. We have sports assets, but also image and tourism ones. Athletes want to come to us, and fans follow them. I think it will be the same this time.
The excellent results of our national team and the fact that the best striker in the world, Robert Lewandowski, is the ambassador of the championship can be added.
What do you expect from this tournament??
First of all, great emotions and an excellent performance of the red and white team. If only because almost half of the Polish amputee football team are Wisła Kraków players. They will play with their own audience cheering them on. It will certainly give them wings. The rest of the national team is sure to do the same. Let me just remind matches against Ireland or Turkey at the Prądniczanka Stadium. Especially the confrontation with the Irishmen, when the stands were full of spectators. I would like many fans to cheer the amputee players during the championships. Not only Polish ones. I would like it to be a real celebration of this sport in Kraków.