In the first part of the 2010/2011 season, AZS AWF Poznan won just two matches. Not surprisingly the women at the beginning of 2011 were aware that a tough battle awaited them to stay in the First League, which they won promotion to just a few months earlier.
Although in the Spring they added eight more points to their previously accumulated four, it was during the challenge that would guarantee their place in the league that they had to acknowledge the superiority of the strong players of Super League team Start Elblag. After this duel, not everything was lost. The girls awaited the decision of second league clubs, which could take advantage of the chance to advance to a higher class. And although teams from Gniezno, Plock, and Koscierzyna decided to play in the First League, organization-financial problems forced the closing of the women’s handball section of First League team AZS AWFiS Gdansk. The Poznan women benefited from the Gdansk misfortune, as it allowed them to stay in the First League.
The „Akademiczki” not only live by their competitions alone. A great success was the „We’re Learning Handball at Preschool” action, which the team organized in May. At four festivities over 300 children from many Poznan preschools participated. The initiative was met with great interest from the community. It always received the support of the Polish Handball Federation, whose representatives (President Andrzej Kraśnicki and Secretary General Marek Góralczyk) personally handed out commemorative medals to the young players at the last event. It is already certain that the action will continue in the coming year.
During the vacation period, the Poznan women’s handballers as usual were not idle. 2011 was successful year for the Pyrki team, which as they traditionally do in the break between indoor seasons played on sand. For the first time ever the girls battled for EBT (European Beach Handball Tour) points during tournaments that took place not only in Poland, but also in the Czech Republic and Germany. Successful performances beyond Polish borders allowed them to enjoy the leadership position in European classifications and an advance to the non-official final of the European Club Championships, where they will be held in June 2012. Last year the Pyrki also won the Polish Cup and claimed the Vice-Polish Championship, only allowing their rivals from Wroclaw to surpass them. To date the team has accumulated 5 medals at the Polish Championships and 3 Polish Cup trophies.
After successful performances on the sand, the time came to return to the hard floor. Before the next indoor season started, Monika Kacprzak decided to leave AZS AWF Poznan to play for Sparta of Oborniki Wielkopolskie. Kamila Siudmak left the team for personal reasons, as did Anna Celmer, who at this moment fulfils a new role – she is the team’s announcer during league matches. Those who decided to wear the AZS colours were goalkeeper Florentyna Pawlak,player Agata Wasiak (Polish National Junior Team) and winger Katarzyna Matyja.
The biggest changes for the „Akademiczki” were, however, yet to come. According to AZS AWF fans on the team’s Facebook page, the event of the year for the Poznan team was obtaining a Title Sponsor, which was Volkswagen Poznan. From October, the „Akademiczki” will not just play under a different name, but will also be involved in leading the training of children that previously participated in the Volkswagen Poznan Mini Handball Cup. The Volkswagen Poznan Handball Academy is targeted at children from grades 4-5 at eleven selected schools. Among the places where one could learn about this project was that section’s booth at Calvaliada –the biggest equestrian event in Poland, held at the Poznan International Fair, which had to have the presence of the AZS women’s handballers. It was also a unique opportunity to learn a little more about handball and try your hand at challenging the women’s players on the floor.
Summing up the past year we cannot ignore that the „Akademiczki” are missing one thing at the moment – more wins. And although compared to last season one can see that the team has close battles with almost every team, the two points earned are certainly nothing to be happy about. Despite fairly average performances to this point on the league hard floor, in the stands at the „Chwialka” in Poznan more and more groups of enthusiastic supporters come to support their team. The „Akademiczki” repeatedly emphasize that the supporters give them wings and pick them up for battle. The women can only regret that their amazing fans have had few opportunities to enjoy victories. May there be more opportunities for joy in the New Year.
„We are going in a good direction. 2011 was a difficult test for us, but it was also a breakthrough period. Our actions to date enabled us to enter into cooperation with such a big company as Volkswagen Poznan. Confidence on the part of such a Partner is of course a huge honour for us – especially as we gained a Sponsor at a time when the majority of other teams around are having financial problems – so this counts double. We are happy that together we can do something for handball. To be completely happy we lack only sporting results at the moment.” – said Team Manager, Karolina Peda. „What did this year teach us? That we have to stick together, because we can count only on ourselves and only with joint efforts can we achieve something.” – continued Peda.