Off The Beaten Track: Polish Football Landscapes

PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS: PRZEMEK NICIEJEWSKI

Away from the big cities and the major leagues lie Poland’s forgotten football fields and during the off-season they are at their most beautiful. Neglected, they simultaneously blend in and jar with their surroundings, but come the end of the winter break, they will be ready for action once again…

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A countryside road, a fading, jagged strip of asphalt, which soundlessly changes into a dirt track. A cross near a fork in the road, a dry well, a field which provides its owners with grain.

The landscape denuded of its beauty, stubbornly fighting with the passing time: a typical Polish village. Eastern reality in a pill – a church, a shop, a fire station…and a football pitch.

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Good football gives these places a wide berth. It is a land of uneven football fields, broken benches and unresolved social problems. Decomposition, oblivion – these words involuntarily come to mind when one thinks about the local form of this beautiful game.

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Sometimes residents of neighbouring villages have no idea about existence of these fields, somewhere off the beaten track, away from the main road, amid overwhelming, oppressive silence.

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The thin white line running through the middle of the field is exceptionally uneven, wavy, and as such presents itself at odds with the encoded perception of its natural essence – to equally divide the field into two halves. But there are many more such paradoxes in this football landscape.

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There is something appealing about visiting such nooks – places outside the reach of commercialised football; fields that lie totally dormant in the off-season, making them even more grotesque. Nobody takes care of the residual snow, or the bushes that grow on the pitch. Sometimes these places are defeated by local apathy and are condemned to be eternally forgotten. They will only survive in local stories, and only then if they are fortunate.

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Only if one makes effort to use their imagination, one will see that here 22 players running after a leather ball.

You can view more of Przemek’s photography here and here. Follow him on twitter @niciejewski1
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