Every one of us is given  the same number of hours  in a  day. Our success in life largely depends on how we use those hours.  Pawel Guziejko’s life  is such a success  story —  a man of  ambition, determination to know himself and overcome  obstacles– a person living life with passion.  What characterizes Pawel is woven into almost all of  his conversations  as a recurring theme:  “ I love the life I live and  I love what I do .  I live with passion  because soccer is my passion”.  One listens to him with pleasure .  Pawel  who  says what he lives and  lives what he says, is a soccer coach.

His indefatigable approach to realizing his dreams is based on setting the bar high for himself.   Presently  30 years old, he arrived in the U. S. in 2003  to  try  and find  his own measure of success in America. Seeking employment in his profession,  his drive continuously carried him forward despite many negative and discouraging  remarks he encountered at first, words that would  have stymied or intimidated anyone else.   He is a graduate of the Academy of  Physical Education  in Warsaw in coaching soccer.

He trained as  a professional soccer player in Poland,  beginning  at the age of  6  through age  18 for the Jagellonian Bialystok  Club.    Why didn’t he become a player of the sport?  Because,  he declares there was no one to steer him in that direction,  give him the appropriate coaching  and individual attention that  an aspiring talent  needs.  Maybe that is why he puts so much energy and heart into his job as  a trainer.  Pawel has no regrets and courageously admits that he played in  the third and fourth  level leagues, stating  that “I  am a much better trainer than I was a player.”

Upon arrival in Cleveland, he was excited by the potential here and convinced that he could energize and organize the Polish community to create a real Polish soccer team.   Pawel was offering professional expertise along with his drive and energies.  He  traveled , organized meetings,  spoke to members of Sports Club Polonia, attempting to infect them with his enthusiasm  and passion, exhorting them to become involved, to make the effort  and take advantage of opportunities and potential.  But he met a wall of misunderstanding, resistance and indifference.  Most regarded him with a smirk, “ what’s this  upstart so excited about  . . ?  Let him go ahead  and try —  jump up a little, then he’ll see.  Let him get a taste of America, then he’ll learn his lesson and settle down.”

Pawel tried, he saw and he succeeded,  but  without the Sports Club Polonia of Cleveland.   And the Club lost perhaps the one real chance for development into a serious soccer team.  I  must say that I am merciless in my assertion here.   The truth often hurts and  can be  found in the facts of the matter.

In general, according to Pawel Guziejko, we Poles living abroad do not take advantage of our skills to realize our true potential.  Arriving here as individuals , we tend to take the easy route,  too often accepting the opinions and advice of a  Polonia  living here 30 years or longer. Unfortunately,  Polonia has a kind of characteristic envy and resentment  which effectively  communicates  to  new, younger arrivals that they  too will not and cannot  succeed  with their dreams or ideas.  This can and has  suppressed many  a newcomer’s  dreams and ambitions.  “It’s sad to have to say it, but there is not a single person in our organizations  here (in Cleveland ) with any  idea, knowledge or professional approach to sports.   It seems that every new idea is dashed  against a wall of small-mindedness.  The fact is, you must pay for professionalism, and then you have results.   Here everyone wants something for nothing — but such a  resigned to mediocrity   approach is  the enemy of success” says the young soccer coach.

After making many fruitless attempts  to reform the  Polish community’s attitude towards sports and  engender interest in the game with his ideas and proposals, Pawel Guziejko went his separate way, utilizing  his  ambition, talents and skills instead of wasting time and energy arguing with those who always know better.  Maybe that is the only route for those with ambition — to disconnect,  to make their own way instead of pretending  that the status quo is  OK.   Do you believe  the reason for playing soccer at all is just  to have a few beers afterwards (or maybe before!)  or think that it’s OK  to freely curse and shout insults during  matches is  really soccer?  Because it’s  not , gentlemen from the Sports Club Polonia,  it is not!   Soccer is a beautiful sport – a perfect team sport which hones ambitions and skills, teaching  players to become better people, to bond and work together for victory.  In sports, only the best win.

Youngsters and adults all over the world play soccer, attend matches, watch the sport on TV and read about it in the newspapers.  The beauty of the sport  is its simplicity based on  individual skills and effort as well as the ability to work together  as a team .  Although talent is a gift, players are not born with  ready made skills.  Success relies on hard work, patience, dedication and determination.  But most importantly, one must love the sport.  And from this love of  Soccer, Pawel has never strayed.  His passion pushes him upward and onward.   He has achieved much in the USA for a young trainer/coach.  He did get  noticed and his abilities were recognized.  He found employment  with soccer teams training children and youth .  He attributes his success to  teams such as  the Cleveland Blues, Cleveland Select,  Spectrum Soccer School.   But he didn’t stop there.  He opened his own training academy where every week he trains youngsters in the sport.  In the Polish community, there were no takers for his skills.  Americans on the other hand can’t get enough of his  unique approach .  That approach is professional with a serious  attitude towards sport.   His passion inspires his youthful students, mobilizes them  and helps them develop serious skills in soccer and in life. It also excites and satisfies the parents who come away with a good picture of what soccer is all about and the value of his training.   Teams he coaches tend to win and attain trophies.  His teams grow in number, strength and conditioning.  An impassioned trainer and coach means a happy, successful team.

What I know about Pawel Guziejko as a  man and coach, beyond my interview  with him and observations of him in action,  includes my own personal experience.  I met Pawel several years ago at the Café at the Polish Cultural Center.  I  was immediately struck by the idea that this special individual from the Jagellonian Sport Club could coach my own son.   My son is a young soccer player and soccer is also his passion.  Pawel has encouraged this in him from the beginning of his training.   Over time, he has proven to be his best coach, the most demanding, the most professional and my son’s favorite and most respected teacher.

Now my young soccer player cannot face the fact that  his coach is leaving the U.S.  for Great Britain.  His departure is a great loss for the development of  my son’s skills in soccer as well as for many other young aspiring stars who also despair at his departure.

Pawel Guziejko is about to begin a new chapter in his life’s journey.   Awaiting him, I deeply believe, are new challenges  and successes  in his field.  He is leaving the U.S., but not soccer.   In July of  this year, Pawel is departed for England , but before he left,  he published   a book on the subject of contemporary approaches to soccer training and coaching, and coordination of  plays  in youth soccer.   This young trainer has had  unique experiences and already achieved great success despite the fact that he is a recent immigrant.

His determination, achievements, the respect and recognition  he’s won in  American soccer society are admirable as well as the accomplishment of publishing a book.     The next step is his move to Great Britain which is the heart  and epicenter of soccer in Europe.     He has aimed high and achieved  – a true success.

The dreams and plans of the young trainer centered on becoming a coach of a professional soccer team for the Manchester United.   Is he aiming too high?   That is the domain of dreams — just not long ago, his dream centered on  publishing a book on the sport.  The book  has been published and  Pawel has  debuted as an author.

Actually, who or what is a  coach or trainer exactly?   A coach must be respected and they must mobilize the team’s players.  Players must literally knock their heads into walls and they will  commit to do this only  for the one who is the best. — for the one they respect and trust.  There are four pillars of soccer —     technique, tactics, movement and psychology.  These four elements are the basis for good players and good coaches.  Pawel’s next team will now have such a coach — Pawel will not  squander the talents of those boys.  He is the one who lives a full life’ —  his life’s work is his passion.

Sincere thanks for the interview and my sincerest wishes for great success in your work

Agata Wojno
Translated by Zofia Wisniewski

Forum, 7-8/2009