Polonia Ladies Club History
Polonia IMKA London (Ladies) started life as a recreational club in 1980. Founded by Bozena Zajaczkowska and her sister Grazyna, the team did not initially join a league, as coaching, provided by friends and players from the Men’s team, was haphazard. In 1981 however, Julek Banasiewicz became the permanent coach and the team entered the London League. From ’81 to ’85, Julek helped the team gain promotion to London League Div 1 where the coaching was taken on by Hannah Walicka. In 1986, the Ladies entered the National League Division 3 and slowly worked their way up to Division 2 gaining promotion with Jurek Jankowski, who took over the coaching role in 1988.
Four years after Darek Seroczynski became coach, in the spring of 1996, the team finally gained promotion to Division 1. Darek continued to coach through to 1999 despite a season out in 1994 where the team was lead by Melody McLaren. Player retirements however saw a slump in form and, as Julian Mazgon-Ballard took over the helm in 1999, the Ladies slipped back to Division 2 and luckily managed to escape further demotion to Division 3. With new blood slowly coming into the side and the arrival of coach Ian Towers, the team surged back to the heights of Division 1 in 2002/3 having finished in 9th place only the year before.
In 2004/5 Donald Deans took over as coach and the team continued to build on past success. In Donald’s first 3 seasons, the club finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd respectively. In the 2007/8 season, despite an average result in the league, the club reached the National Cup Finals for the first time in its history. After an epic match against the University of London (ULU), the team eventually lost 3-2. In 2008/9, the team reached National Shield Final, where it closely lost another 5-set match to fellow Polish team IMKA Polonia.
At the start of the 2009/10 season, the team was joined by ex-ULU coach Mark Kontopoulos. In his debut year in the National League, he managed to lead the Polonia Ladies to a second place in the National League and a first place in the National Cup, while in 2010/11 the team won its first ever National League title in the newly formed Super 8s and found further success by winning the National Cup yet again and securing the League and Cup ‘double’ (2011/2012).
With last season (2012/2013) marked by injuries and pregnancies, the team did not manage to win any silverware, despite an undefeated first half of the season and a great run in European (NEVZA) competition for the first time in its history.
In the following season 2013/2014 under the guidance of Mark Kontopoulos Polonia SideOut continued to be successful finishing as runners up in the Super 8 league and semi-finalists in the national cup. The success of the club was highlighted via a nomination for the Active Westminster ‘Best Active Club’ Awards. The success of the club continued into the 2014/2015 season with Polonia SideOut again runners up in Super 8 but going one better in the national cup by reaching the final.
There was also success for our Polonia IMKA team who were runners up in the London league premier division. The season 2015/2016 saw some exciting developments within the club with the creation of our Polonia Academy ensuring the future of Polonia Ladies was secured. To date we have 20 juniors under the guidance of Raffaele Simonte who was appointed as the academy head coach.
A team was entered into London league division 2 and they were promoted in their first season to division 1. The Super 8 team had a very successful season winning the national cup and again ending as runners up in the Super 8 league. The team also achieved international honours by winning “30 years of Evriali” tournament in Greece. Polonia IMKA continued to show the depth in our club ending as runners up in the London league premier division. The club continued to build on their success in 2016-2017 season and maintained their dominance in the leagues. With the super 8 league becoming more competitive Polonia SideOut finished 3rd in the Super 8 league and again national cup semi-finalists. Polonia IMKA continue to challenge for top honours again ending as runners up in the London premier league with former Super 8 player Anna Wachula coaching the team for the first time. Polonia SideOut Academy team remained in division 1 enabling our junior players to continue to experience competitive league play. This season saw the appointment of new head coach of Polonia academy Anestis Kales.
Season 2017-2018 again same the Polonia SideOut team venture abroad into the NEVZA competition in Norway. This was a very successful competition for the club with Polonia SideOut finishing as the 5th best team in Northern Europe. Again, Polonia SideOut retained 3rd place in the Super 8 league and again semi finalists in the national cup. Polonia IMKA had their most successful season to date under guidance of new coach Lyes Sola reaching the national shield final narrowly losing to Sheffield Hallam a national league division 1 side in the run up to the final IMKA also beat several NVL opponents showing the depth of volleyball within the club they also were runners up in the London Premier league. Polonia Academy team remained in division 1a with coach Elsa Meserlian at the helm and for the first time our Polonia juniors a London league grand prix under the guidance of Anestis Kales.
This season 2018/2019 also said goodbye to long serving head coach Mark Kontopoulos and appointed Lyes Sola as the new head coach of Polonia SideOut with his success in taking Polonia IMKA to the national shield final we are confident that under his guidance the club will continue to thrive.