Recap/Highlights: Poland Defeats Belgium For First Ever International Victory

Photo credits: Marcin Fijałkowski,

Poland’s national team outlasted a stubborn Belgian Barbarians squad 27-20 Saturday afternoon in front of an enthusiastic home crowd at the Municipal Stadium in Gdynia, Poland. In winning their first ever game, Team Poland showed the 5,ooo or so fans in attendance and the national television audience that American football is growing in Poland.

The rain which arrived at game time, made conditions difficult at times as the slippery ball gave both quarterbacks problems. Nevertheless, Polish signal caller Bartek Dziedzic played well throwing for 243 yards and three touchdowns.

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After a scoreless first quarter, Dziedzic found Patrick Matkowski for a 42 yard touchdown pass early in the second stanza. After the missed PAT Poland led 6-0. Belgium responded by recovering an attempted onside kick by the Poles  capping a short drive with Carmeo Insalaco’s eight yard run into the end zone, giving the them their first and only lead of the game 7-6.

The Poles came back late in the quarter, first picking off Belgian quarterback Tomasz Firszt and then turning to a trick play as Karol Zak hit Thomas Zubrycki for a 62 yard touchdown pass giving Poland a 13-7 halftime lead.

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Team Poland scored two third quarter touchdowns on passes from Dziedzic to Tomasz Matkowski and  Thomas Ochnio. Belgium did not respond until too late scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes to close the gap to 27-20.

Belgian quarterback Tomasz Firszt threw for 315 yards but also was intercepted three times, while Team Belgium only had a total of 46 rushing yards on the day. Poland had to overcome their own self-made adversity for the win, accumulating a total of 111 yards in penalties.

The win marked the first international victory by Team Poland having lost to both Sweden and the Netherlands in their previous international contests. For Belgium, it was their first loss of 2015 following their victories over Kuwait and Slovakia.

Both teams face crucial IFAF Europe qualifying games this fall as Poland takes on the Czech Republic October 11 while Belgium plays Holland October 24.

Next up for Poland though is another friendly, this one against Russia on September 26.

Game highlights

Photo credits: Marcin Fijałkowski,

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.