Polish community out in force as co-host nation prepares for Euro 2012 kick off


Two ‘fan zones’ will be staged in South West London; in Hammersmith’s POSK Club, and in Wandsworth’s White Eagle Club.


By Tristan Carlyle

Thousands of Polish supporters will be gathering in ‘fan zones’ across London as Euro 2012 kicks off this evening.

The Polish National Tourist Office (PNTO) – along with the weekly magazine ‘Cooltura’ and Polish Radio London – have organised four fan zones for the Polish community.

Two will be staged in South West London; in Hammersmith’s POSK Club, and in Wandsworth’s White Eagle Club.

Bogdan Becla, director of PNTO, said: “The places will have huge screens, food and drink; we are trying to make them a good place to watch the spectacular games.

“We hope there will be a lot of people going to the matches. In the two SW London clubs, fans of different countries will be able to watch games as well.

“We don’t expect any unusual behaviour, we will have the standard security – similar to a theatre that can hold the same number of people.

“If we play in the quarterfinal then we would look for slightly bigger places perhaps – but perhaps that is wishful thinking!”

Mr Becla responded vigorously to the suggestion that neither Poland nor England had much hope of winning the tournament.

He said: “Don’t be so pessimistic!! Let’s hope our teams meet in the semi-finals!”

The Office for national statistics estimates there are 521,000 Polish-born residents in the UK , 123,000 of whom live in London.

In particular, Hammersmith has become a hub for the Polish community.

At the centre of this lies the Polish Social and Cultural Centre (POSK), which hosts many Polish organisations and boasts the largest the Polish library in the world outside of Poland.

Capable of holding several hundred and the largest of the fan zones; POSK will be at the heart of the communities EURO 2012 support.

Andrew Makulski, the centre’s Euro 2012 organiser, is looking forward to the atmosphere the fans will create.

“It will be a very good experience, full of spirit and heart,” he said.

“I think the most emotional game will be Poland versus Russia, but every one will be exciting!

“We love football, and we have been waiting for this event for a long, long time.”

Karolina Zagrodna, a journalist with Cooltura, expects there to be a sea of red and white scarves at POSK tonight.

“We can’t imagine watching the game anywhere else,” she said. “It will be a great atmosphere, a lot of people together promoting the Polish team.

“Tonight is very important: a good start and then the side will have confidence to take into the next games.”

Catch the White Eagles’ opener against Greece tonight, 5pm kick-off.

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