Conversation with Jarosław Eliasz – head of the handball section at the University Club of the Academic Sports Association (KU AZS) of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, about studying at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, passion for sport and professional work.
What major did you complete?
IT, two years ago.
Why did you choose to study at SGGW?
This is an interesting story. I have a twin brother. We have the same interests. We graduated from all schools together, until high school. When we passed the matura exam, we already had a chosen career path in which we want to develop. And that was IT. We have submitted papers to various universities, including at the Warsaw University of Technology and SGGW. In the first round of recruitment, my brother got into the polytechnic, I got into the Warsaw University of Life Sciences – I submitted the required documents. And when it turned out that in the second round of recruitment they also admitted me to the polytechnic, I decided that maybe it was the right time to split up with my brother and check the two courses of study. Apart from that, WULS-SGGW had one more good side, it was very close to my place of residence. Additionally, my older brother graduated from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW, namely computer science and econometrics.
How do you recall your studies?
Very good. I must admit that I remember the whole course of teaching (even before my studies) quite well. I have never had to spend a lot of time studying books to acquire knowledge. Even when some more difficult items appeared. However, I remember the atmosphere at the university and the way I spend my free time even better. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything else.
Are you a graduate of 1st and 2nd cycle studies, are you now in doctoral studies?
No, although my supervisor at the MA studies Dr. hab. Bartosz Świderski (currently from the Department of Artificial Intelligence of the Institute of Information Technology – editor’s note) hoped that I would continue my scientific career. Unfortunately, the truth is that I haven’t defended my thesis yet. I took up my professional work, and I did not want to write my diploma thesis quickly on the proverbial knee, so I put it off. Now is the last moment to make up for it.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I work in an American company providing solutions business intelligence , i.e. business decision support systems. I am a technical consultant. It coincides with what I came up with in college that I would like to do. I owe the position I was able to take in this company from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
How did you get there?
Once, an employee of our Faculty of Applied Informatics and Mathematics at SGGW came to our classes and said that the company where his friend works was looking for students. To this day, this company runs the “Academy of young talents” series. I’ve been working in it for 5 years.
Did you also act as an athlete during your studies?
It is correct.
Where did the idea for handball come from?
This will be an answer that you do not expect, because my dad used to be the coach of the Polish National Men’s Handball Team.
So this is another field (apart from computer science among brothers) that you have in your blood.
Yes, my dad has practically devoted his entire professional life to handball. However, he did not want to force us (sons) to a sports career and he never directed this direction as little boys. On the other hand, when I chose my career in IT, I wanted to play this sport for entertainment and just have fun in my spare time.
How long have you been training?
I started my adventure with handball in high school.
Did you join the handball section right away in college?
After starting my studies at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, I checked which sections existed at AZS, because I tried to be active in various disciplines before. As soon as I saw there was a handball section, I knew where I wanted to try my hand at. I went to my first training session without being too confident (I hadn’t trained too much before), but it turned out that I am no exception. A lot of people who come and play with us don’t have a club background. We share a passion for this sport, we support each other in improving our results. When the boy, who was the manager at that time, had to give up training for health reasons, to my surprise (I was the youngest of the trainees), I was offered the head of the section. It was the first year of college.
What tasks does the section manager have?
First of all, communication with our university AZS, preparing a list of team members before the competition or motivating players to come to training. Especially now in these difficult times. But I also understand that there are more important things than academic sports.
Where does the handball section train?
For a long time, KU AZS, in consultation with the Sports Facilities of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, has been dealing with the most important matter for us, which is finding a training hall – we train on the premises of university facilities. In the past, finding the right place and convenient time could be difficult.
How often do you train?
Twice a week before the pandemic. Sometimes more often, depending on whether a tournament was coming up – in recent years, 3-4 mini-tournaments were organized during the academic year as part of the Academic Championships of Warsaw and Mazovia. Of course, the situation with training in the pandemic era is not easy. They were suspended for some time due to the closed Sports Facilities of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Now, in agreement with the university authorities, it has been possible to open the facilities for the purposes of AZS. At the moment, we train once a week. It should also be understood that it is difficult to gather a sufficient group of people for training due to distance learning – many students left for their homeland. Whenever possible, we try to meet and train to keep fit and health, not necessarily for specific competitions. We do not know if such events will take place any time soon. Of course, we follow the sanitary rules.
I understand that the section has a coach?
Yes, at the moment we have a section supervisor on behalf of the School of Physical Education and Sport (SWFiS) of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. In addition, all the players who have some experience and knowledge always support the trainer in making the trainings as valuable as possible for the participants. It is very important.
Are the entire squad students from SGGW?
At present, they are really only students. In previous years, we had one university employee.
University employees can also enroll in the section?
Students of 1st and 2nd cycle studies and long-cycle studies, doctoral studies and university employees can play and train with us. There is an age restriction for 1st and 2nd cycle students, ie they can enroll in the section until they turn 28.
What is the situation with your management tenure in the handball section? After all, you are no longer a student. Has your successor already been selected?
It’s a hard question. At the moment, in the era of the pandemic, I do not intend to change anything. However, we often talk to the guys about how they see it. I am waiting for the current situation to calm down a bit and then I will talk to one of them if they would be interested in being a manager. I will definitely be around for a long time to give my successor advice and help until he feels confident.
Do you spend a lot of time managing the section? How do you connect it with your private and professional life?
The real answer is that happy people don’t count time, so I don’t know … But if you think about it, it’s not much. Only before the competition there are more activities. The better a team is built, so that everyone is willing to train and act for the team, the less the manager has to work, and only the formalities remain.
What are the recruitment to the team like?
You can join at any time. It is enough to come to the training and talk to me or a supervisor on behalf of SWFiS SGGW. We are all happy to welcome fresh blood, whether it’s with a club background or not. You can also join the AZS SGGW Handball Team Facebook group, talk to me and answer a few simple questions that I would also ask if we saw each other face to face.
How could you encourage students to join your team?
One of the biggest advantages of being a team member (apart from the satisfaction and pleasure of playing the game itself) are the friendships made here. I have been on the team for eight years, I have contact with many people, we are doing great and it is really something valuable. We all need to fulfill ourselves, set goals for ourselves, and the handball section offers such opportunities. More than once we have won handball with stronger teams only because of our inner community – to put it bluntly, we won with strength of spirit, not muscles. Additionally, for all the years (except for the last year), when I was a member of the team, we took the first place in the final classification after the whole season among social and natural sciences, which was associated with an attractive scholarship for players for the next academic year.
What are your achievements in the competition?
Apart from the aforementioned first place in the university type classification, we have won the bronze medal of the Warsaw and Mazovia Academic Championships. In the Polish Academic Championships we took 11th place in Poland, which – if I remember correctly – was the best result of the university so far. It should be emphasized that the competition is enormous, because we often play with professionals. We have a difficult task. But that’s not really what it’s about to win the ultimate trophy – the cup. First of all, it is a great fun of the game itself, the opportunity to meet interesting people, as well as spend time together in an active and pro-health manner. And this is the most important thing.
Thank you for the conversation.
Interviewer: Anita Kruk,
Promotion Office of SGGW