|The Polish Women’s National Team was founded in 1947. In their first official international appearance the White and Reds lost to Czechoslovakia 1-3, nevertheless Poland soon joined the group of World’s top teams and recorded significant achievements throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including two Olympic bronze medals in Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968.
Since then, however, the last three decades were not so successful. A sudden and a very enjoyable change came in 2003.
New Head Coach Ryszard Andrzej Niemczyk, who came back to the post after 26 years from his first stint, brought new spirit and gave inspiration to the previously faithless players of the National Team. He somehow induced them to show their best on the court, which they did. Poland’s rising power was visible during the World Grand Prix continental tournament in August, when they finished as runner-up, claiming a spot in the 2004 Grand Prix.
Furthermore, the Poles pulled off a huge surprise during the 2003 European Championships in Turkey, knocking over the hosts in straight sets in the final to claim gold.
Malgorzata Glinka was honoured as the Best Scorer – and unofficially the MVP – of the tournament, while the team’s captain Magdalena Sliwa received the award for the Best Setter.
The debut of the Polish Team in the World Cup gave it the 8th place with Glinka again receiving the MVP honour of the tournament and a USD 100 000 prize from the FIVB.
During the European Olympic Qualification Tournament, the team played well and beat Russia and Germany but lost to Turkey in the semi-finals, thus losing its chance to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
In 2005 the national team proved its superiority by defending the European Championship. Now it is working hard to continue its stream of success on the road to the World Championships in Japan, where it hopes for a medal position.
MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS:
Bronze Medals in 1964 and 1968
Silver Medal in 1952
Bronze Medals in 1956 and 1962
Gold Medal in 2003
Silver Medals in 1950, 1951, 1963, 1967
Bronze Medals in 1949, 1955, 1958, 1971
Andrzej Niemczyk, a former player for Spolem Lodz, Stal Mielec and Anilana Lodz, started his coaching career working with Stal Mielec in 1965 and later since 1968 continued for ChKS Komunalni Lodz surprisingly quickly guiding this small local team into the first division, which made him quite famous in Poland.
In 1975 he was selected to be the head coach of the Polish women’s national team for the first time but he left in 1977, after the European Championships in Finland as he was not able to keep the promise of a medal position, although Poland was very close, finishing fourth. Until 2003, this had been Poland’s best achievement in the Women’s European Championship.
Between 1980 and 1990 Niemczyk was in charge of the West German national women’s side and in 1984 his team participated in the Los Angeles Olympic Games, finishing 6th. In Germany, he was also the coach of club teams: SV Lohhof and SCC Berlin.
Following his time on the international stage Niemczyk spent most of the 90s in Turkey, achieving success with club teams Eczacibasi Istanbul and Vakifbank Ankara.
In April 2003, 59-year-old Niemczyk accepted his second term in charge of Poland following the sudden resignation of Zbigniew Krzyzanowski. Niemczyk brought not only new quality but also a new life into the national side, as he gathered all the best Polish players. His first success was achieved in the World Grand Prix qualifying tournament held on home soil in Pila. The home team finished second, securing a spot in the 2004 World Grand Prix in Italy.
But the best was still to come. In September, Poland surprisingly won gold at the European Championship in Turkey. That was the first ever continental title for any Polish senior team. Among the golden players was his daughter Malgorzata Niemczyk-Wolska. Succeses continued: 8th place in 2003 World Cup in Japan, 8th place in World Grand Prix in 2004, 7th place in World Grand Prix in 2005, 3rd place in 2006 World Grand Prix Qualifications in Azerbaijan, 2006 World Championships Qualification and finally gold medal in 2005 European Championships and Grand Champions Cup in Japan.
Moreover he also brought two of his team players: Ma?gorzata Glinka and Dorota ?wieniewicz to individual successes. The former became 2003 European Championships Best Player and 2003 Europe’s Player and the latter became 2005 European Championships Best Player and 2005 Europe’s Player.
Not only are Niemczyk’s sporting achievements to be admired but he makes no secret that he is struggling with cancer. Like he often says, he had to learn how to live with this fatal disease.
In 2006 his ambitions is to enter the World Grand Prix Final and win between 3rd and 6th place in World Championships.