United - the new Poles are joining forces to play football|
South West has a long and proud tradition of Eastern European immigration.
of the 200,000 Poles who fought with the allies in the Second World War settled
in the region once the war was over.
But now their dwindling numbers have
been boosted by around 40,000 new immigrants, mainly from Poland.
Out looks at how the new Poles are adapting to life in the South West, using football
as a uniting force.
Work, rest and play football...
The new generation of Poles have come to the region to work,
study and, in the case of the members of Polonia FC, to play football.
the star players
Zielinski - age 26. Goalkeeper. A Political Studies graduate, now a hotel
Tomasz Olczyk - age 27. Defender. Formerly
a coal mining engineer, now a factory worker.
Grocholski - age 24. Forward. Was a Management student, now a factory worker.
Out dropped in on one of their games to find out what life is like in England
for the new Poles of Plymouth.
Tomasz Olczyk used to be a coal mining
engineer in his native Poland - now he's a factory worker in England.
he's not working, Tomasz plays in defence for Polonia FC.
He settled in
Plymouth to make a decent living, but hopes to return to his own country at some
point in the future.
"I come to England because I would like to save
the money, and after I come back to my country open the business and good life,"
Olczyk does factory work in England|
Tomasz has a 26-year-old
wife, and a daughter of two and a half - they are both living back in Poland.
very horrible but it's a life
life is brutal," says Tomasz stoically.
I came to England, I didn't speak very well. It was hard for me... and then I
come to Plymouth and start work here," he says.
"It was very
hard to find [work] but I find and now I'm working..."
His fellow Pole and Polonia FC supporter Slawka Gruziewska
has also settled down after an uncertain start:
difficult to find a place to live because lots of agencies they need some deposit
and a reference as well, that's why it was very hard for us."
football to factory - star striker Andrzej Grocholski |
FC star striker Andrzej Grocholski has found English people very friendly, and
open to people from other countries.
Mike's experience is similar:
haven't found anyone saying, 'Oh, the Poles have taken our jobs, they're not paying
taxes' because we're not.
"We're here to pay our taxes and just to
it is hard to be so far from home and living apart from friends and family, as
just miss your friends so much and then you just come back to Poland and, Jesus,
everything has changed... our life in Poland stopped on the day we left Poland."
Polonia FC football team stands united when it plays soccer.
really wanted the English community to see the Polish are friendly, that we're
not closing ourselves in our community, that we're open for being part of the
British community as Poles."
Zielinski - goalkeeper
team sees the game as a way of becoming part of the wider English
community whilst maintaining the players' roots in their native Poland.
are keen to make a good impression with the local English teams, as Mike explains:
the end of the game we say thank you to the other team even if we lose.
don't foul, if we do we say sorry... and that's the way to make a good impression."
living and working in England, the Poles remain fiercely patriotic, as Tomasz
displays as he kisses his football shirt:
"We were just
born with a large red and white flag and a huge eagle in our heart.
love my country."
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