60 - INSIDE BEACH SOCCER
THE SECRET BEHIND THE REBIRTH OF A CHAMPION...
fter two years away from the Polish National team, beach soccer fans all over the world will have been surprised to see Boguslaw Saganowski’s name back on the team sheet for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier in Jesolo.
“She came back to my life at the right time, and the right place,” Saganowski added.
Many, no doubt, asked the same questions: What can he give to the team now? Is he fit enough for top-level beach soccer? Can he deliver at a World Cup Qualifier after so many months away?
Not only did Urszula provide the quietness, calmness and peace he needed, but also restored the spirit and fight that allowed him to become the competitor he wanted and needed to be.
But ‘Sagan’, a born beach soccer fighter and a gritty competitor, proved any doubters wrong on the Italian sands this past September, not just with his never-say-die attitude, but his undeniable talent.
With a burning ambition to feature at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifier, and maybe even the main competition, Saganowski hit the gym in a big way.
Not only did he lead Poland to their second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup by upsetting the likes of Ukraine and Russia, he also inspired wins against Italy and Switzerland en route to lifting the title, while being named the competition’s MVP.
Endless hours of physical preparation five days a week, alongside Poland training, helped deliver the Saganowski of old in time for Jesolo.
Quite the week for Poland´s star man. His renaissance is even more remarkable when you consider that two years ago, Saganowski had all but given up on beach soccer, his enthusiasm for the game enduring something of a lull, making impressive displays such as the ones in Jesolo seem little more than a pipe dream. It was a tough time for the Polish skipper, who revealed all to Beach Soccer Worldwide pitchside in Jesolo. “I had personal and physical problems, and I was not 100 per cent focused on beach soccer,” he acknowledged after his side´s remarkable win against Russia. “My mind was not there, and obviously this was reflected on the sand. I could not keep playing in those conditions.” After a number of months of introspection and soul searching, the man who had proven so inspirational for Poland´s national side managed to address many of the issues that were proving problematic. In short, he got a new life... a new family life that got him back on track, and this new life had one name. Well, two: Urszula Sikorska.
“After 20 years, it was amazing to see that the love we felt for each other was still burning. That moment changed everything.”
Even a painful shoulder injury against Russia could not keep him from helping his side achieve what seemed all but impossible before the competition. “I want to be there at least one more minute! Let me in, please,” Saganowski shouted to the sidelines while clutching his right arm, imploring his coach to ignore the advice of the doctors shaking their heads close by and let him play. But, shielding his arm against tough, physical marking from the Russian defenders, Saganowski marked his return to top form with a trademark display of strength and skill. The 39-year-old fired the goal that sent Poland to the World Cup - a decade on from their last qualification in 2006. It represented something of a finale to his personal and professional journey. Those hours in the gym, the weeks of mental preparation, the months spent striving for improvement on and off the sand - all made worth it with one strike of a ball. Celebrations from Saganowski and his jubilant Poland team-mates showed just what it meant to Marcin Stanislawski´s side, although his squad must now prepare for a new, more arduous journey. The World Cup will represent another step up in class for Poland to deal with next year they will have their star man back to his best.
Urszula and Sagan’s love story began more than 20 years ago. They met in primary school and what began as a good friendship became something else. While their lives followed different paths after high school, she remained something of a constant and, when they met again years later, the spark returned.
In the Bahamas, Saganowski, at 40 years of age, will again lead Poland the only way he knows how - with strength, passion and a competitive spirit that makes him an example for team-mates and opponents alike. And, as ever, Urszula, his soulmate, will be there to offer Boguslaw all her support.