IBB London Polonia have been hailed as ‘one of the best Polish ambassadors’ after they completed a league and cup double.
The Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre based side completed the double as they won the Super 8s league to follow up their cup win over Team Northumbria on both occasions.
Their achievements were honoured with a reception at the Polish embassy, in Portland Place, on May 9 with the ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Witold Sobkow.
He said: “We are very proud they are champions again. We at the embassy have been sponsoring the team as we think they are one of the best Polish ambassadors in the United Kingdom.
“They can promote Poland, they can promote sports and also team spirit, which is very important. In the team there are about 50 per cent of people who are Polish and 50 per cent who are not and this is very good as they train together, play together and we appreciate the team spirit
“It’s a huge success for Poland. Volleyball is very popular in Poland, with many years of traditions.
“In recent years, volleyball has gained more visibility in Poland and the UK thanks to Polonia.
“We are very happy to support them as there are only positive aspects of this which is very good.”
Polonia claimed victory in the first final, edging out their opponents by three sets to two, before winning 3-1 on the Sunday to become champions.
It has been a remarkable season for the Brentford-based side as they have only tasted defeat once in domestic competitions and now have the chance to fly the flag in the European Challenge Cup.
Chairman Bartek Łuszcz said: “I’m proud to work in a team sport and it was truly a team effort.
“We had 15 players working hard and another 10 members of the team working every week. I’m sure if we take out one of the people from the core team we wouldn’t make it. I’m very pleased.
“Our next challenge is to play in the European tournaments. It’s a very big step up in terms of requirements with a certain amount of seats.
“We struggle with the venue. Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre doesn’t meet the European requirements so we’ll have to look elsewhere for that.
“We aspire to play in the European tournaments as it means we’re an established club and grow into one of the top European teams.”
Polonia have also signed a five-year deal worth more than £250,000 with chief sponsor IBB to bolster the club.
Libero Michas Saller is not planning to hang up his boots just yet after helping the Brentford-based side secure a league and cup double this season.
The 39-year-old has been with the club for more than 20 years and has won the league and the cup before, but never in the same year. And he’s set his sights on taking the side into European competition next season, which he believes can be a boost for the sport in Great Britain.
He said: “I’m coming to the end of my career, but with the enticement of Europe it means I can’t hang up the boots yet.
“Playing in Europe will be a great advertisement for British and English volleyball. It’s a fantastic achievement for the club to be able to do that. You can’t dismiss results, which are key to progression.”
Saller got into volleyball through the Polish scouts in Ealing and worked his way through the ranks to the Polonia first team and he’s seen how the club has developed.
He added: “It’s now got a huge following so everything is very official. We’ve got partners in Poland and we want to learn from them and change people’s perceptions about the game.”
Government funding for the sport was cut after the London 2012 Olympics, which has been frustrating to all involved in the sport.
Saller said: “It’s one of those things that’s been frustrating given the talk of the Olympic legacy.
“You have to invest in something to get something out of it. You’ve got to have something to look forward to and strive towards.
“If you want to compete on the international stage, you need backing by the government and in local communities.
“Here at Polonia, we have a junior scheme to entice young kids to play sports and not just play computer games.”