‘Football Future with LOTOS’ is a long-term project involving promotion of football among the youngest, and offering thousands of young football players an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Robert Lewandowski and Kamil Glik. Run together with our partner, the Football Academy, it has proven a great initiative for honing talents. Qualified trainers, including such recognised names as Paweł Janas, 15 modern training centres, mainly in the Province of Gdańsk, but also in the Provinces of Olsztyn, Bialystok, Rzeszów, and Katowice, and over 3,500 kids keen on improving their skills by practising according to a uniform training plan.
Launched in 2012, the ‘Football Future with LOTOS’ Programme operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism and the Polish Football Association. Its main task is to support an equal skill level among players practising in smaller clubs, introduce training plans conforming to a uniform standard, ensure professional and complete coaching supervision, increase the availability of training for children and youth, develop the expertise of coaches working in the clubs with young players, and provide financial support for organising an appropriate training process. In our opinion, it is not only football skills that are important, but also general education – fostering patriotic attitudes and teaching kids to abide by the rules of fair play.
Interestingly, the training programme as part of ‘Football Future with LOTOS’ has attracted some 150 girls. Most of them play in Gdańsk. In the majority of the centres, they train together with boys, but in Chojnice, Bytów and Gdańsk, there are female teams too.
We have made significant progress over the seven years of our operation. One of the main measures of the project’s success is the number of players who are called up to national and provincial squads, the fact that they attract interest of leading Polish sports clubs, and the number of children practising in the training centres – their number doubled in each of the centres that joined the Programme. This shows how important it is to support small clubs and what limitations occur in smaller towns and villages.
The results of the Programme are already visible – each year its participants are called up to football teams at the province level, and the best ones to the junior national squad. Many of the former Programme members compete successfully at the highest level in Poland: in Ekstraklasa and First League.