Team Poland will play host to the Belgian Barbarians this Saturday, September 12 at the Municipal Stadium in Gdynia, Poland in their first game since 2013. Belgium will be playing their third game of the year having beaten both Kuwait and Slovakia earlier.
For Poland, this game is their first tuneup as they are preparing to face the Czech Republic in an IFAF Europe Group B qualifier October 11. They will play Russia in a second exhibition game September 26. Belgium faces Holland October 24 in their Group B qualifier.
New head coach of Team Poland, Bradley Arbon, heads into this game with a team that last played in 2013, losing to Sweden in February that year and then to Holland later in September. He held an intense training camp to whittle his team down to a 53 man roster.
The Wroclaw Panthers, runners up in the Polish league in 2015 have the most players on the team with 14 Panthers representing their country. The champion Gdynia Seahawks are next with eight while the Warsaw Eagles have six players on the squad.
Arbon will rely on Wroclaw Panthers quarterback, Bartek Dziedzic and his favorite target, as always is his brother, wide receiver Tomasz Dziedzic. On defense, Poland looks to defensive lineman Arka Gdynia Cieśloka who was a key factor for the Gdynia Seahawks in capturing the 2015 Polish title.
Belgium head coach Lee Rosky leads a squad that have set their sights on total improvement. They showed signs of that in their 40-22 win over Slovakia in August.
Quarterback Tomasz Firszt has developed into the signal caller and leader the Barbarians need. He has some offensive weapons in running backs Arkadi Meerschout and Rudy Mwamba, who both scored against Slovakia. Wide receivers Mike Schoonheyt and Ruben De Ruyter were also two of Firszt’s key targets in the game against Slovakia.
On defense, linebacker Nick Vanhee played well against Slovakia, snaring an interception and returning it for a touchdown.
An interesting sidenote is that Belgium’s defensive line coach, Claude Cholewiński, is Polish and has coached the national team, also as defensive line coach. Needless to say this game will be a homecoming for him.
“This will be difficult. I know so many of the players and coaches on the Polish national team well and my heart is with Poland, whenever I’m not coaching against them, like this Saturday.”
This will be only the third time in their history that Team Poland will play an international game.
The game will be televised nationally in Poland and live streamed as well.
Kickoff time is on Saturday, September 12, 4:45 PM (10:45 AM EDT).