Piotr Gacek: I will do everything I can to make sure that Warsaw wins the highest laurels

Behind Project Warszawa a difficult season with unsatisfactory sports results and characterized by many unfavorable conditions. What conclusions have been drawn at the club after this season?

Piotr Gacek: A very difficult season in terms of sports results is behind us and we are disappointed with this result. We practically didn’t make it into the playoffs at our own request, because the level of games we played in the second round was different from the norm and the level of the players we had in our ranks.

It was also not an easy season in terms of illness and it should be clear that the team was eliminated almost three times during the return round due to illness. Twice it was a coronavirus, and once we were struck by a severe flu, which wreaked the greatest havoc on the bodies of the protagonists. After such an effort, it is difficult to return to the high level that you have to train during training. However, this does not alter the fact that a situation in which a team with such potential and names has not qualified for the play-offs is unthinkable and should not take place. From experience I can say that if there is no specific result, either the training methods change or some personnel changes are made, and we decided that in the new season. It will be a new team in which the most experienced players remain, reinforced by ambitious and young volleyball players. I also know how important the atmosphere in the team is, especially in different difficulties, so we paid special attention to this when building the team for the new season.

So I would like to finish a certain stage, that was last season. It was for me the most difficult season in terms of sport in the whole period of my adventure with volleyball. I’ve often had the pain of defeat, but when it’s affected on the pitch, it hurts a little differently. Therefore, I can understand the disappointment of fans and partners of our club, but from this point I want to make it clear that the sports future of Project Warsaw has been safeguarded and created in such a way that such situations are avoided.

The team underwent a minor personnel revolution. Many players left, but the representatives of Poland and Germany joined him, we also see many faces that have already appeared in the courts of Warsaw. What is the team concept for the new season?

We haven’t announced all the names yet, but I think fans and partners will be happy with this team. The team went through a personnel revolution, but this is a consequence of what happened last season. I think new blood is needed. The concept of the new team is mainly the construction of a dressing room, creating a well-oiled team that takes to the dance floor and plays with some automatism and self-confidence. I want it to be a team that will work from start to finish for its success.

We have already announced some interesting players for next season. Here I have to say something about the Polish representative – Janek Firlej, who already has a history in Warsaw, but after a few years playing at other clubs, he returns with a lot of experience and I think he does not have his Warsaw DNA lost and will come back to us with great ambition. I must also admit that he has made tremendous progress since he left our ranks and I am delighted to have him with us.

I am happy that Maciej Stępień has also joined us, who is also returning to the club after a few years of absence. He had great seasons with Legia Warszawa. I want Warsaw accents in this team because it’s a very important element in building the club’s identity and I think Maciek will use his potential. This duo will give us great stability as a quarterback.

The main attacker of the German national team will also be a big reinforcement – Linus Weber, a young player with great potential with a great history in the Italian and German leagues. I think playing in PlusLiga in our colors will be a good test for him.

Our team will also include the 2018 World Champion – Artur Szalpuk, who joined us last season. He is also a player who returns to our club and he knows the Warsaw dressing room very well. His experience and skills will be a great added value to the team.

The mix of experience and youth is also completed by our second attacker – Niels Klapwijk, who has played in the Italian and Turkish leagues, among others. He is a player who will give us a lot of rest and will form a great duo with Linus Weber as the attacker.

In addition, we will have positive news for the players who will join our team, so as I said, both the fans and our partners will be happy with this title.

The team is joined by coach Roberto Santilli, who knows volleyball Poland very well and has already led teams fighting for the highest goals. How did the collaboration between him and the club come about and what are the goals for the coach?

Roberto is a well-known coach in PlusLiga and it’s good to have him in your ranks, especially because of the baggage of experience and great coaching achievements. I count on his individual and substantive approach to each player and his experience in building a group. He already knows the Polish market and will not have to collide with the reality of PlusLiga, he has already made himself known for his charismatic side, but I think discussions with judges are not the overwhelming argument for which he is in Warsaw (laughs ). I think Roberto is already creating a good atmosphere in the team. From the very beginning of our collaboration, he is in constant contact with the players and builds relationships from the first working day in Project Warszawa.

Roberto Santilli replaced Andrea Anastasi who had led the project with great success for the past three years. However, last season it didn’t look as good as before. What was the backstage of this breakup?

Andrea Anastasi is a wonderful person and an excellent trainer. However, our team needed a boost, not only from the players, but also from the training staff. This season didn’t quite come to fruition and the result is a divorce with Andrea. We did not renew the contract with him and it was a decision that was also dictated by the observation of the team during the season. Many circumstances, including the aforementioned illnesses in the team, have had an influence on this, but the coach is responsible for the sports result and the functioning of the team. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and it’s a shame we won’t see Andrea on the PlusLiga courts as he is a much loved and charismatic figure. We wish him every success in the Perugia team and let’s not forget that he is always welcome in Warsaw.

Bartosz Kwolek, for whom it was the first senior club and where he played for the past six years, also left the club. Can we say that also in this case a certain cooperation formula has burned out?

Bartek was associated with volleyball in Warsaw for six years and it was a very long time. He made enormous progress, gained a lot of experience, but this cooperation for both sides ended. I am surprised by the interview Bartosz gave in “Przegląd Sportowy”, in which he mentioned the conditions of the club’s operation, which were not true. I’m surprised because the player’s agent, when he asked for an offer from our side for next year, was told during the season that the club was not interested in extending the contract with Bartosz Kwolek. The words in this interview about our club are not true. For my part, I wish Bartek to develop his potential in Zawiercie’s team and the Polish national team.

Project Warsaw is not only a sport, but also the marketing and business potential created by the capital and the popularity of volleyball. What is the club’s long-term strategy, not only in the sports context, but also in collaboration with business entities?

We want to move forward on the business side, we want to exploit the marketing potential of the capital and volleyball, especially after a tournament like the world championship. I believe that this tournament will boost the volleyball market in Poland again. We have enormous potential, as evidenced by the results of our junior team, among other things. As a club, we don’t want to stand on the sidelines and we also want to work towards the youth academy. We face the ambitious challenge of establishing a volleyball academy that will train the youngest volleyball players. However, we will present detailed aspects of our strategy for the coming years at a separate press conference and in subsequent communications.

Recent years have not been easy for the club due to the corona pandemic, the war in Ukraine and many organizational changes. Is now the time to stabilize the club and build on solid foundations?

It was a difficult time for sports, not only in Warsaw, but also across the country. We may be a little more involved and see this issue closely because we are connected to Ukraine because of our main sponsor and we have relationships that show us that it is not easy. However, I would like to reassure you that this does not endanger the survival of the club. We have a guarantee of stability, we have a business development strategy in Warsaw in the plan. Volleyball in Warsaw has been an example of stability this season, apart from the situation related to the war in Ukraine, because since the new sponsor appeared, all arrears to the players have been paid. Until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, this stability was undisputed and the club will continue to function like this. At the moment we just need to rethink our strategy of sponsoring, building a brand and a strong stable club, also benefiting from some stability from this season.

Where do you see Projekt Warszawa in five years?

Over the next five years, I see Projekt as the leading PlusLiga club, not only as a team that strives for medals, but also as a club that simply wins those medals. I would like us to become a medalist of the Polish Championship, I dream of it and I will do everything I can to give Warsaw the highest laurels. I would also like Warsaw to win medals in the Champions League and these are sports dreams that I would like to fulfill, starting with building a strategy, building a brand, building an academy so that these five years of stability of the club so great that we will regularly win championship medals Poland and the Champions League.

So what to wish for Projekt Warszawa for the upcoming season?

First of all, full stands, because as it turned out last season, this is not only a problem in Warsaw, but also in Poland and Europe. I invite you to the stands to support our team, because it is very difficult to play without fans. We have created a new team and I think every player will be grateful to be able to play in a full Torwar hall. However, I wish first of all health to the players themselves and that the pandemic will not stop the sports competition. We also wish for an end to the unstable situation in Ukraine and for our neighbors to be able to function normally again, so that this war-induced hell will finally end. I would also like to be able to enjoy the successful outcome of Project Warsaw after this season.

Press release

Go to Polsatsport.pl

Leave a Comment