Picture of Zbigniew Wilk at Silesian Freedom and Solidarity Center.
Picture of Zbigniew Wilk at Silesian Freedom and Solidarity Center.

A Footballer Against the System

Footballer between two worlds

Football clubs are focal points of many community stories. School students in Katowice were assigned to search for the best ones. This one is about living with political changes.

What is it about?

This short film is about the life of Zbigniew Wilk, born in 1951, who migrated to Silesia at 14, aspiring to follow his brother into the mining industry. Silesia, a beacon of hope for many seeking better livelihoods, became Zbigniew’s new home. His passion for sports led him to join the “Rozwój” sports club, closely linked to the Wujek mine, where he began his football career as a defender. The club, rooted in the historic “Sokół” Gymnastic Society, and the community around it,  offered a social environment for the miners.

Zbigniew’s teammates and family paint a portrait of a man of indomitable spirit, known for his toughness, camaraderie, and integrity. His sisters recall a caring, affectionate brother who always put others first, while his colleagues admired his resilience and composure on and off the field.

A Footballer Against the System” is a heartfelt exploration of Zbigniew Wilk’s dedication to his family, community, and the beautiful game, showcasing a life marked by determination, kindness, and an unwavering commitment to uplifting those around him.

How was it made?

In October 2022, as part of the Erasmus+ project “Football Makes History: Schools and Football Club Museums Unlocking Local Heritage education”, high school students of Katowice school “ZSTIO2” were challenged to research unique and compelling stories in their community, with a focus on working together with local football clubs. During the school year 2022/2023, they acquired the skills needed to do this research, as well as prepare their storyline and pitch it. A total of 20 stories were created, but the three most compelling stories were selected by the Football Makes History team to become the basis for the production of a short film. 

This story was written by Wojciech Noras who then continued as Lead Producer with his production team (Michal Mol, Mateusz Kolodziejak, Michal Sekowski, Marek Papierniok, Nazar Sobakin, Ryszard Lampart and Oleg Majewski).

This process was carried through during the school year 2023/2024. It was supervised by teachers Anna Skiendziel, Agnieszka Swoboda and Edyta Stanczyk. The IMR, led by Film Director and Football Makes History Creative Director Stefano di Pietro, provided continuous training and remote learning and led on-site production and post-production. The film was screened in Katowice on 12 June 2024.  It captures and makes available to the worldwide public a story which holds significant value for the community and can be used as an educational resource. Also, a more elaborate life story of Zbigniew Wilk was added to the Football Makes History collection.

How can educators work with it?

The short film connects history, civic identity and how the past is remembered in the present. Specifically, the history addressed here can be intertwined with the events of martial law, enacted in Poland in 1981. Educators working with learners could work with questions, such as: 

  • How could we get better insights into the lives of people during that period and the potential tragedies that ensued?
  • How could difficult situations have been averted? 
  • What influenced the subsequent history of martial law and solidarity?

Find out more

Find out more about Zbigniew by reading a biography here. To find out more about the pacification of the Wujek Mine and other things related to Silesian freedom here.

Let’s review

Picture of Zbigniew Wilk at Silesian Freedom and Solidarity Center.
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