Last weekend, the Berlin Crocs were crowned victors of the second annual Nysa Cup after an undefeated run. The tournament saw dozens of footy players from Vienna, Czech Republic, Germany and Poland descend on the small southwestern Polish city.
Polish teams Warsaw Bisons, Wrocław Lions, Fort Nysa as well as international guests Prague Dragons, Berlin Crocs and Crusaders – made up largely of Silesia Miners and Vienna Galahs – enjoyed a hot spring Saturday playing a massive 11 games on the municipal stadium – the first in Poland to be outfitted with footy posts.
Polish teams – made up almost exclusively of Polish nationals, put on a solid performance but were no match for the numerous Aussie-born players from the Berlin Crocs.
“The way they controlled the ball and the field allowed them to get away from us early, and we struggled to slow them down,” said Robbie Turner, who stepped up on the day to coach the Warsaw Bisons.
“While the Warsaw team did not have the result we wanted, it was still a positive day, and a good lesson in things requiring improvement to ensure we keep developing as a team,” he added.
Turner applauded Big Piotr and Dancing Mateusz, Warsaw players who successfully got two goals past the Crocs. He acknowledged notable contributions from defenders Damian Stalis and Marcin Skibinskl and ruckmen Przemek Król and Mateusz Bartkiewicz against the Wrocław Lions and named Piotr Bieniek best on ground in the Bison’s only victory against the Crusaders, which secured the team 5th place.
The Wrocław Lions had a successful tournament, finishing 4th after a narrow loss to Fort Nysa in the 3rd place playoff, said Lions coach Jeremy Coombe.
“Daniel Michalak was a strong contributor for the Lions, rucking for most of the day and providing an imposing physical presence until a hamstring injury ended his day prematurely, while Stefan Bogdan was dangerous in all the matches, using his speed and skill to set up attacks, and also kicking goals himself.”
Other strong performers for the Lions on the day included Jakub Świerczyński, Grzegorz Pluzinski, Anas Djeffal and Radek Szałański.
Prague Dragons coach Paul Breidis said: “It was a pretty good effort by the Prague Dragons who, with only seven players able to make the trip, came away with second place at the Nysa Cup in Poland”.
Despite the Dragons requiring top up players throughout the day to remain competitive “our team showed strong character and work rate to win every game except the big dance in the final against Berlin Crocs”.
“Our team was very well served by Cathal Doherty, Ash Lenihan and our captain Jan Novak in the midfield who not only worked tirelessly but created genuine strong passages of play through their skills and football smarts.
Our full-forward, Ronan Wordsworth, provided strong options all day and with the unusual habit of closing his eyes to mark the ball, managed to kick a good bag of goals across all games.”
The Nysa Cup also saw the first ever women’s match to take place on Polish soil, with a rag-tag team of players from Warsaw, Silesia and Prague conquering Fort Nysa’s AFLW team.
Turner called this a “brilliant achievement” for AFL Poland while spectators were surprised at the ferocity demonstrated by the women and largely agreed it was the most enjoyable game to watch.
Thanks were extended to Australia’s ambassador to Poland, Czech Republic and Lithuania Lloyd Brodrick who inaugurated the event with a ceremonial handball.
- Victoria Bieniek, AFL Poland