325 teams were registered in Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship for the 23rd edition of the Tymbark Cup tournament. It is the biggest event for children from 8 to 12 years old in Europe.
In Zachodniopomorskie, the largest number of teams participated in the competition for boys under 12 years of age – 122 teams were registered. In the U10 category there were 80 teams, and in the youngest category (U8) – 48. There are clearly fewer football schools focusing on training girls, so it is not surprising that there was also less interest in the schools. 35 teams registered to compete in the U12 category, 23 in the U10 and 17 in the U8 category.
Eliminations started at the poviat level in March, and at the weekend one of the last qualifying tournaments for voivodeship competitions was to be played. As it was in previous editions, the host of the provincial final will be Szczecinek and the local MKP sports grounds. On May 11, the U12 teams play, and a day later we know the best in the U8 and U10 categories. The winners go to the national finals in Warsaw.
The tournament has a great tradition, great prestige, and can boast that the current representatives of Poland also played in it – for example Arkadiusz Milik, Piotr Zieliński, Bartosz Salamon, Tomasz Kędziora, Bartosz Bereszyński or Paulina Dudek. In 2008, one of the winners was Sebastian Kowalczyk, currently one of the leaders of Pogoń Szczecin (in PKO Ekstraklasa he has already played 162 matches and scored 18 goals).
– There were several players in that version of the event who are now making careers – Sebastian Kowalczyk remembered. – Back then, the tournament wasn’t as big as it is now, but everyone’s ambitions were the same. Everyone really wanted to win, especially since they were competing with competitors from all over Poland.
The main prizes were also always mobilized. It was not only about these material gifts, but the winners were guaranteed a trip to, for example, a match for the Polish national team. Sam Kowalczyk, who won the Tymbark Cup with the Salos Szczecin team, went with his friends to Wembley in London for the match between England and Kazakhstan.
Team from West Pomerania. won the national finals quite often. They had successes in Pogoń, Stal, Aronii and Football Academy (FASE). This year’s edition is different. Only school teams could participate in the matches, which limited the rivalry of football academies, which by definition had a better chance than amateur school teams.
Coach Sławomir Kłos, who is currently one of the sports directors and coaches at FASE Szczecin, can boast of a great achievement. Together with their team from the Football Academy, Szczecin won the Tymbark Cup twice in a row. It was in the under 10 category and it was two different teams. In the 16th edition, the best player was Marcel Broniewski and the best goalkeeper was Xavier Ponichter – both from the FA. In one of the interviews, Kłos emphasized how difficult it was to achieve these successes, but also admitted that the lessons learned after the first triumph (in 2015) paid off in the following year.
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