10 August 2009

XV „Woodstock Bus Stop” Festival, Kostrzyn nad Odrą, 31.07.-02.08.2009 ‘Przystanek Woodstock’ is the biggest open-air festival in Europe. The 2009, (XVth) edition in Kostrzyn (near the Polish-German border) gathered record-breaking 450.000 spectators.

‘Never Again’ Association is proud to be a partner of the organisers - WOSP - and for the 10th time participated in the event, preparing and running one of the more prominent side attractions, the 6th Antiracist Football Cup of Poland.

Over 60 teams applied to take part, and 32 qualified for the tournament. Most of the needed heavy equipment was provided by MOSiR – Kostrzyn’s City Center of Sports and Recreation. The matches took place every day of the festival before the concerts started, on a pitch located Just next to the main stage of ‘Woodstock’. Great exposure and timing (scheduling the games for a time when nothing was happening elsewhere) attracted a lot of festival-goers to become football supporters.

After three days of tough competition, tournament came to its conclusion on Sunday afternoon. Before the grand finale, 3rd place match was won by Kanarki (Canaries) after a round of penalties. Anticipation was building while two exhibition matches were played first, the team of ‘Never Again’ volunteers defeated Journalists 3:1. The press is hard to keep down, and they took their revenge in the 2nd game on the team of Pokojowy Patrol volunteers of WOSP – beating them 1:0.

In the final of the tournament FC Komorowo jumped to an early 2:0 lead. Furious rally by Promil at the end of the 2nd half came up just short, and the only goal they scored meant tere was no extra-time needed – the champion was crowned. The top three squads received medals and all sorts of prizes, awarded to them during a ceremony which took place on the main stage in prime time, after a concert of a crowd-pleasing legendary Polish group Dżem. Teams also recieved cups, funded and presented by: mayor of Kostrzyn, the Head of the City Council, and the leader of WOSP Jerzy Owsiak.

The success of the tournament would be impossible to achieve without the help of PL.2012 the coordinator and overseer of preparation undertakings for Euro 2012 in Poland, and Council of Europe’s Bureau of Information. Representatives of those organisation visited the festiwal site, and their impressions of the ‘Never Again’ activities were extremely positive.

During the three festival days, there was an information point set up, with ‘Never Again’ volunteers handing out leaflets, responding to questions from the crowd passing by, and promoting the antiracist ideas and actions. The press release was sent, and every day short informational notes were produced and put on the official festival website.

‘Over a hundred thousand people gathered around the main stage, shouting as one ‘Fight racism!’ and ‘Let’s kick racism out of stadiums!’ – that’s really impressive. I believe deeply, that with help of people such as volunteers of ‘Never Again’, players involved in the tournament and the rest of the festival audience, it will be possible to solve the problem of racism on Polish stadiums for good.’ – Jacek Purski of ‘Never Again’ association, coordinator of all its activities at ‘Przystanek Woodstock’.

The 6th Antiracist Football Cup of Poland was a huge achievement, as considering the number of teams and spectators involved, the idea of fighting agaist discrimination got plenty of exposure. The concept of fighting prejudice on a football pitch was met with great deal of enthusiasm. The amount of educational and informational materials given away, media overage and time on the main stage are all important steps in promoting the subject of antiracism, an issue very important, especially with Euro Championships 2012 being organized in Poland.