Not so long ago, he could be found on the roads of the Jasło region, when he was covering the next kilometers on his characteristic bicycle. Today Mateusz Ślusarczyk gave up his handbike, devoting himself to a completely different sport discipline.
I am talking to Mateusz the day after his return from the training camp of the Polish national team in amp football.
Mateusz Ślusarczyk: Very good! I am a little tired but very happy!
No wonder, you’ve just returned from the training camp of the Polish national team!
MS: Yes. It was my first official training camp with the Polish amp football team.
You did it?
MS: I think so. I didn’t stand out too much from the rest of the guys. Of course, there are a few players who stand out. They are mostly young boys, even ten years younger than me. I was probably one of the elders at this training camp, although I did not meet all the representatives, because a few did not come because of health problems.
A lot has been going on with you lately when it comes to amp football. In a short period of time, the Hussars, staff consultations, and finally a grouping of the representation.
MS: Fact. A lot has happened since I switched from handbike to amp football. I joined Husaria Kraków and played the first tournament which basically ended the season. Later I volunteered for a consultation, and I found myself among the selected lucky ones who got the chance to participate in the team grouping.
After the above-mentioned tournament, the coach of the national team invited me for consultations, which were more of an overview of those willing to play in the national team. I went and it worked!
Have you thought about amp football before?
MS: Right after school I started looking for a job. I already knew that I would definitely do some sport. It was the first time that this football happened somewhere. At that time, it only functioned in Warsaw. There was some correspondence, invitations to Warsaw, but at that time I was financially unable to travel to the capital.
How do you cope with commuting to Krakow?
MS: Fortunately, trainings take place only once a week. There are four football amp teams in Poland and all of them are based on visiting players, so not only do I commute, and believe me, I don’t have the farthest distance. An interesting fact is that there is practically no one in Husaria from Krakow itself. I try to participate in every training as much as possible, because in Jasło it is difficult for me to train for various reasons … Sometimes we dig with my nephew, but it is not enough.
Exactly. Apm football is a demanding sport, matches are played at high intensity. What are you doing to keep in shape?
MS: Matches are matches, because it’s adrenaline, competition, and therefore a different kind of effort. These trainings can be really murderous, especially since the motor trainer is a real executioner (laughs). We do not have a reduced fare.
I work all the time. Gym, swimming pool, playground, although the latter is difficult. Now the weather is not favorable, and besides, the time … When I finish my work, there are already some groups in Jasło’s eagles, there is no place. On Saturdays, I try to set aside an hour or two for outdoor training. You know, the condition or motor skills are not bad. What I miss the most is contact with the ball and chemistry. Kicking with my nephew or shooting at an empty goal is not the same as playing, so as I mentioned before, I try to be in Krakow every week.
I like working out in the gym. When I see others training, how much effort they put in, it motivates me even more. After the training camp I know how to exercise and what to pay special attention to.
I try not to overdo my training. After the first class in Husaria, I kept adding individual loads to myself, until finally I was so heavy that I fell over. Fortunately, I recover quickly. Swimming pool, massages and after two or three days it was ok.
To sum up, I like what I am doing now. I have a clear goal, I can die!
This goal is?
MS: At the moment I chose one – to become a full-time representative of Poland, and thus play at the next EURO. Will it come out? We will see. I will train hard because I realize that neglect can ruin my chances. Up to EURO one and a half years, so there is some time to prepare. The most important thing is to stay in this squad and make it to the tournament. More and more boys are contending for the game, the competition is awake.
What does your wife say to all of this? More you are not at home when you are …
MS: “You couldn’t play chess?” (laugh). I have an understanding wife, no problem with that. I understand that what I do is my passion. There was a handbike – it was good, there is an amp – it’s good. He supports and cheers me on. Only when I complain that it hurts here, it hurts there, it refers to this chess.
The ending year was a breakthrough for amp football. You started to be broadcast in the media, TV broadcasting matches from the World Cup. Something started.
MS: Certainly yes on the media. The broadcasts from the Championships were a big issue. Although the tournament lacked some luck in a dramatic match with Angola, she later won the World Cup …
In our country, disabled sports are not popular, although the results in them are admirably good. I say “admirable”, because the lack of conditions for training – and I’m not talking only about amps, but almost every other discipline – limited funds, and often even their lack, and most of all, the lack of appreciation and support can effectively discourage you. The more you should appreciate the buzz that has arisen around the national team in amp football.
Let’s go back to handbike. You have been successful in this discipline. What went wrong?
MS: Successes were … Two vice-championships of Poland … Health issues were a factor. Even though I don’t drive anymore, this year it was not bad. Fourth and fifth place. Maybe I would be more disappointed if I missed the podium by two or three seconds, but the difference to the third place was very big. Now I treat my bike for recreation. I found my place on the pitch. There is more going on here, it is more interesting. You can get a bullet under the knee or a cork in the abdomen, but that’s what I want to do anyway. I want to play amp football.
Jasło will have a Polish representative?
MS: I will not say anything because I do not want to jinx it. I had a chance (not the last one, I think) to train with the first team. We’ll see what happens next. Soon the staff will inform about appointments for the next grouping. I hope that my attitude to the last one has earned me another chance. If that happens, I will be very happy.
In handbike – vice-championship of the country. In amp football – the Polish national team. What is your recipe for success? MS: As long as my health allows, I want to use this time to the maximum. It is known that over time the body will refuse to obey. I believe that if someone wants to achieve something, they can achieve it. My disability is a huge motivation. The worst thing is to break down. In spite of everything, you have to push forward. Disability is just a state of mind.
You often share your fundraisers on social media for various purposes.
MS: I am still looking for sponsors. I will not hide that money is important. Commuting, equipment – it costs money. I work with several companies, but if anyone would be willing to help, I am open.
Mateusz, thank you for the interview and I keep my fingers crossed! MS: Thanks. I will try not to disappoint.