Ten years of American football in Silesia!

Their first training took place on April 15th, 2006. Although it’s been 10 years already, there is still a memory in people about the the first American football team in Silesia – Silesia Miners.

The first official coach of the team was Wojciech Grzybek – a man whose first appearance on the field caused a big surprise. He was wearing a leather coat, rock’n boots and long hair. The team was also made up out of a few Americans, who read about the team in local newspaper or heard about it from their students in English class. This way, the Silesian Miners was strengthened by Jeff Shiffman, Josh Taylor, and Rich Art. Their contribution to the development of the team was great, since they transfered American approach to sport onto a Polish soil.

That year was the time of fun, understanding, and learning football, which back then, most of the team knew only from movies. It was a great success that Silesian Miners team was created in the first place. Wojciech “E.Tee” Grzybek says: “We were virtually no experience. We just wanted to play. The first matches we did, was in fact without any equipment (!). We played in Oborniki Slaskie.”

Since 2007, Silesia Miners started to officially take part in national competitions in Polish American Football League and immediately achieved their first success – they got second place in Polish Championships. Even though the next season was not the best for the team, it did not weaken the will to fight by Miners. In 2009, the team experienced a true revival, and they defeated The Crew Wroclaw (today Panthers Wrocław) in the final match. They won the highest rank championship of that time in Poland that year. The same year, the team has also been honored by the IFAF federation with the title “Team of the Month” in November 2009. This success was contributed to the character of Jeff Shiffmana, who replaced Wojciech Grzybek as coach.

The next four years were marked by setbacks, among which there were some small successes. In January 2012 there was a memorable merge of AZS Silesia Miners with Warriors Ruda Śląska, resulting in the creation of currently functioning Silesia Rebels team.

In 2013, after a surprisingly weak season, the core of the team dispatched to other clubs (including Zaglebie Steelers and Panthers Wrocław) . Rebels lost many experienced players, the result of that was their withdrawal from participation in the top leauge matches, as they played down to PLFA II. Next year, under the leadership of new main coach Jacob Samel, supported by Ralph McGaw, the Silesia Rebels reached the championship by defeating the Seahawks Sopot in Katowice in the first season.

PLFA I season played in 2015 was not easy. Although they started with two won matches, they began to loose after that due to player injuries. From match to match, there were further injuries, and Rebels lost power. At that time, their reserves have shown they are also worth something.  Rebels ended that season with balance of four wins and four defeats which allowed them see what they need to work on.

This year, the team will have to deal without two experienced trainers – James Samel and Ralph McGaw. They will be replaced by both Maciej Klimczak, Matthew Głodkowski and Maciej Szczerba.

“Season 2016 is full of changes for us. We planned it with great optimism, we set the bar high for ourselves hoping for another milestone. We managed to organize a few things: we returned to the Silesian Stadium, gained new and expanded cooperation with existing partners. Few new great players from Zaglebie Steelers, Rybnik Thunders and Czestochowa Saints also joined us. We continue to aim high, we have a great ambition and hunger to win. This is why today I wish the players, the Rebels, and their protagonists – Miners and Warriors – strength, passion and the will to fight. Let this be our way to commemorate the celebration of the 10- anniversary of our sport in the region” – says Sławomir Szymuś, manager of Silesia Rebels, and one of a people that in 2006 founded Silesia Miners.

(AG/PK)

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