Spring has sprung and that can only mean that football is returning to Poland. Kickoff for the 2014 season is set for 3:00 PM on Saturday, March 29, when PLFA I play begins in Płock, where the Mustangs will host the Krakow Kings. Four hours later the newly-formed Warsaw Sharks and the new-look Zagłębie Steelers Interpromex will inaugurate play in the Polish League of American Football's premier division, the Topliga. In all, 70 teams are set to compete in Poland's five official levels of competition.
For the second consecutive year, six teams will take part in Topliga competition, while 10 will now play for the PLFA I title. PLFA II will once again be the biggest division, sporting 22 teams from 18 cities. The Topliga's championship game, SuperFinal IX, will be played on August 2, and the PLFA I championship game will be played a week later. The season will conclude with the PLFA II championship game on October 19.
In addition to the three senior divisions of 11-man football, the 8-man version will be back with 13 teams in 2014. Four teams will take part in the PLFA 8 championship tournament, to be held on July 13 in Ilawa. The juniors will also play 8-man football again this year, with 19 teams vying to reach the final tournament in Wrocław in October.
The Topliga will feature two “new” teams, the Wrocław Panthers and the Warsaw Sharks, formed from the mergers of two teams that have already competed in the PLFA. Additionally, the Sopot Sabercats joined up with the Gdynia Seahawks to form a team that will continue play as the latter. Five teams will be making their PLFA debuts in 2014, including the Radom Green Ducks and the Wrocław Outlaws in PLFA II and the Mielec Aviators, the Gorzów Wielkopolska Grizzlies and the Koźmiński Lions in PLFA 8. Two clubs, the Gdynia/Sopot Seahawks and the Warsaw Eagles, will send four different teams onto the field in various divisions (Topliga, PLFA II, PLFA 8 and PLFA J).
“In front of us lies a long, intense and emotional season of football,” commented PLFA President Jędrzej Stęszewski. “There are 239 games scheduled in the five divisions that comprise the PLFA. Each year the level of competition is improving, as evidenced by the growing number of games with teams from abroad. I firmly believe that this year we will beat the previous records for spectator turnout and media impact, making it a groundbreaking year for football in Poland.”
List of 2013 champions by league:
Topliga: Wrocław Giants (now the Wrocław Panthers, formed from a merger with the Wrocław Devils)
PLFA I: Husaria Szczecin
PLFA II: Warszawa Królewscy (now the Warsaw Sharks, formed from a merger with the Warsaw Spartans)
PLFA 8: Zagłębie Steelers Interpromex
PLFA J: Bielawa Owls