2021/2022 will be consigned to the history books and remembered for the challenges that came with it. The players of the first team and also Pro Volley Academy are resting and taking a well-earned break and considering next season. The Londoners share their experiences of the last few months and come to various conclusions of the season that has just closed.
IBB Polonia isn’t hiding the fact that the 2021/22 season was super challenging. Following the issues that the pandemic brought, the team based in London had to face the realities imposed by the headache of Brexit. This was the season that they employed full time professional players; but due to the lack of sport visas The Club relocated to the home of PGE Skra Belchatow, Poland to prepare for the CEV Champions League campaign. This is a place they call their second home, due to the welcome and kindness showed by the host club. Sadly the anticipated results in the highest level of club sport didn’t materialise and the players’ contracts were ended along with the resignation of the Head Coach. That position was quickly filled by Greg Niski who also took over the reigns of the Pro Volley Academy. The Club had to change its targets for the season and the focus was geared towards the Academy and the domestic season. The Academy players along with some senior players formed the team for the Super League. The squad was very young and for some matches the average age was only 19 and despite this ended the season in fifth place which was not the normal position that IBB Polonia’s fans have been accustomed to over the last decade. Despite this The Club is optimistic as one of the aims was to increase the amount of game time of its Academy players.
The Pro Volley Academy players didn’t just play at the highest level in England, but they were silver medallists at theirfirst attempt on U18 England Championship, played the first season in Division 2A of the London League, winning the season and gaining promotion. Many of the Academy players were also called up for the Under 19 National Team and took part in an international tournament.
Other than the „on-court” events this season, the usual hard work took place, developing the business and organisational and marketing progress. The senior leadership of The Club continue to build the trademark of The Club across the UK. The sport has continued to be promoted and the number of people introduced to it, has risen hugely via a number of new initiatives. Thanks to the incredible level of the development of Pro Volley Academy, many applicants have been interested in joining the sport/education program at the beginning of new academic year. Thanks to the support of the Club’s partners, mainly the strategic sponsors IBB Builders Merchants, a training camp took place which is a fairly unusual initiative in the UK. Since the start of the season, a relationship has developed with BT Sport which has manifested in the broadcast the first episode in February 2022 of the first ever volleyball series called The Volleyball Show. The new historical logos on the match shirts were unveiled before the first Champions League matches – the famous British author with Polish roots: Joseph Conrad. In March 2022, a new collection of club souvenirs was developed, the new mini club mascot, branded balls, sunglasses, and designer cups were for sale and proved to be very popular. Towards the end of the season, fans could also purchase replica match shirts. IBB Polonia London also continued to develop its communication via social media and expanded to incorporate Tik Tok into its portfolio.
The Club continued to develop diplomacy via sport avenues between Poland and Britain which can be judged by engaging the Polish community in building volleyball in the UK. Towards the end of April, IBB Polonia London won a Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland competition that allowed the financing of the series The Volleyball Show under the title „Polish sport diplomacy via volleyball on British TV”.
„At the close of the season, I want to thank everybody who has become involved with The Club and helped us grow and become stronger: players, coaches, members, business partners. Our strategic sponsors IBB Builders Merchants and our investors, without whom none of our work would exist. It is very hard to assess the last few months; we tried everything possible on the international stage, but sadly we didn’t fulfil our targets. The subsequent European campaign has once again opened our eyes and forced us to change our aims and to adapt the evolution of our teams. For this reason we refocussed everything on the youngsters this season. The last two seasons has seen the improvement of our young players and the Academy has been our mission and we can definitely say they have made huge strides forward. We aim for continual improvements and to keep pushing forwards each season. We have increased our sporting potential: via the Academy and through our business predominantly by producing and televising our own TV series. We have many ideas for the 2022/23 season and have started working on them already” said Bartek Luszcz, CEO of IBB Polonia London.
IBB Polonia London is now preparing for the 2022/23 season and is making the next set of objectives. 2023 will definitely be an important date in The Club’s history as its 50th anniversary is around the corner. More information about the events will be shared in the coming weeks.