As the World Cup kicks off, we are looking to shine a spotlight on people involved in football in Surrey from varying nationalities and roles. First, we spoke with Pawel Wozniak, who has held various positions, including Club Secretary, Welfare Officer and Coach with the football club Wisla Krakow UK London.
Can you provide an overview of your football history?
My love for football started when I was only a few years old. There were not many opportunities to train or enough pitches to play on during my youth. So, it was very often me and a few mates playing on the concrete pitch behind the school or in the local recreation ground. In addition, there were no proper football boots or balls. However, we could play all day long during the summer holiday. I eventually ended up in my school team and spent a few years at my local football club until I was around 14 years old.
What has football given you?
Football has given me lots of joy, as well as providing a form of escapism. When I played with my friends, there was no judgement, only pure fun. I believe it can help shape one's character and show that you can reap the rewards if you work hard. It could be small things like scoring goals, getting assists or great teamwork, which you remember for years. It can also help you achieve a place in the school team, and semi-pro grassroots club like it was in my case. This can contribute to other life activities, and your effort can pay off later. I still play from time to time, which is always a great thing to do, even though my body thinks otherwise.
What is your current role in football?
I'm currently involved with the football club Wisla Krakow UK London, where I held various roles like Club Secretary, Welfare Officer and Coach.
How, why and when did you take on this role?
It all happened when my son Vincent started playing football. He naturally showed interest at the age of two. We played together a lot, and we signed him up for the local football club when he was four or five. I was involved as a parent volunteer and then the team's manager too. Meanwhile, I decided that I wanted to start coaching, and I have never looked back since then. I've been with my current club since it was formed five or six years ago. It has grown from one team to twelve teams playing in various local Leagues.
What has this role given you?
Running a football club and coaching children is not an easy task. The role has given me serious responsibilities but is also very rewarding. For me, the most important part is coaching and spending time with children. Seeing them smile, having fun and progressing with their skills and football abilities is beyond everything else. That motivates me to be a better coach and person myself. Sometimes you can feel stuck and unclear when trying to find direction and clarity on how to develop your coaching and personal skills. That's why I take every opportunity to learn (Big thanks to Surrey FA for organising great CDPs and other learning activities). Once you see the happiness on children's faces, they learn, listen to you and work hard, and it all goes away. I love what I do and being a football coach is a great experience.
Who are you supporting in the world cup?
That's a difficult one! I am originally from Poland, so my heart is between Poland and England as I've lived in London for over twenty years. So, I will support both nations. I believe the Three Lions have a better chance - Finger's crossed for both teams!
If you are inspired by Pawel's story and wish to know more about how you can get involved in coaching, please head to the coaching section of our website by following the link below.
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