Meet Poland’s One-Handed Wonder

If you play or coach football in Europe, you have heard players deliver a similar excuse a million times:

Sorry I won’t make it to practice /game because …..

A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling my Facebook feed, when I came across a photo of a football player that was worth a thousand words – I downloaded it and put on my social media with a caption – “A 1000 words of motivation.”

The player had only one hand.

After a brief search I found the person I was looking for – Bartek Nowak. He had been playing for the Warsaw Eagles in Poland’s Junior League. When I contacted his Coach Artur Gorski about Bartek he was effusive:

“He’s such a great team player, hardworking humble and plays at a high level.”

Not long ago Bartek’s team played our local team from Poznan in the semi-final game. Our team made a second half comeback and Bartek’s Warsaw Eagles’ dreams of playing in the PLFA Juniors 11 Men Final ended with a last second field goal.

Poland - Bartek - 2pic.2

After the game I was standing on the field, talking to a friend when I heard:

“Hi Coach, you wanted to talk to me?”

Just like a well-timed blitz, Bartek showed up out of nowhere ready for an interview.

He lives near the city of Lublin and it takes a three hour ride on weekends to get to Eagles’ practices. Bartek’s football journey started three years ago when the local team, Tytani, visited his school with a American football presentation. As it turned out one of his friends played for the team and Bartek fell in love with the game.

He was a bit hesitant before his first practice;

“I was thinking, how will the players and coaches react when they see me?“

He made an impression on the defense and the coaches put him at linebacker. Bartek was not the biggest in size so he had to compensate that with hard work, dedication and heart. It wasn’t long before he played his first game with Tytani Lublin and he was accepted as a member of the football family.

When I asked him about what football has given him he replied:

“The coaches saw my hard work and soon I was named a starter and that gave me that extra motivation and a boost of my confidence. Not only on the field but off the field as well.”

This spring Bartek joined the Warsaw Eagles to play in Poland’s top junior league. The decision involved hundreds of hours of weekend training rides from his parents:

“My family has been very supportive. They loved the idea of me playing in Warsaw. They understood that it was a chance for me to gain more experiences. Without their support I wouldn’t have made it.”

This fall Bartek will return to his local team, Tytani Lublin, who play in Poland’s Junior 8 Man Football League. After meeting him I’m sure he will play with passion and will be a source of inspiration to his teammates.

Actions speak louder than words. It’s a simple truth that is often overlooked in this day and age of self-made Youtube life coaching gurus and so called motivational speakers.

Bartek Nowak is not a feel good story. He is a football-loving, hard-working kid who is surpassing his own limits and for whom the game of football is so much more than wins and losses.

I’m not sure how will his career and life unfold but he can be a role model for never giving up, for chasing your dreams.

In our daily lives, we all have to overcome some obstacles and negative influences, so when you feel like quitting maybe you should think about Bartek and think about this:

Despite all the obstacles he has made it. What is stopping me?

Wojciech Andrzejczak
Wojciech "Voyt" Andrzejczak. Head Coach of Kozly Poznan and President of the New England Patriots Polska fan club. He recently worked with Jim Criner’s ACTA in China, coached US National Football Team and Clifton Mustangs (NJ) . His articles have been published in AFCA Summer Manual and leading websites .
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