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Agnieszka MirekThis week, our attention turns to Polish tchoukball – more specifically, the one-club lady of Ursus Rybnik: 18-year old Agnieszka Mirek.

Mirek has been playing as a defender for Ursus Rybnik for five years and has a wealth of international experience since her debut in 2014, including having played in both of the last two European Tchoukball Championships (ETC).

Initially, she started playing tchoukball purely "to prove Mr Stelmaczonek (her teacher) wrong" after he said she "shouldn’t have bothered coming to training". Soon after her introduction to tchoukball, she played in the Surprise Cup where she "fell in love with the sport and the people" because of the incredibly friendly atmosphere.

Her favourite tchoukballing memory so far is the ETC in 2016 as she loved meeting "all of the wonderful girls from all over Europe" - as well as this, she was a big fan of all the parties in the car on the way to matches.

Away from tchoukball, Mirek is a self-professed geek with a penchant for TED talks, crosswords and other puzzles. In a slightly less expected turn of events during the interview, she told us of her dislike and distrust of swans having been chased by them when eating a sandwich 3 years ago – admitting that running away from the swans was "the most effective running she had ever done".

Since she started playing, she notes that there are new teams popping up everywhere now and the game seems to be getting bigger, as well as the existing teams continually improving. One day, she would like for tchoukball to be as well known in the world as football or volleyball but with less of the "negativity between players and teams".

Having played in a number of big games so far in her tchoukball career, she said that the best way to fire herself up is the need and desire to prove herself and "fight for her team". This leads nicely into her aspirations for EWC 2019 in Radevormwald, where she just wants to focus on improving and playing better than at the ETC in 2018.

Finally, we asked her what advice she can give to any new and upcoming players which was essentially: don’t quit. She feels that the best thing for her own development has been playing at international level where she can learn from the best and, in her words: "there’s no training that will help you as much as getting your ass kicked by the Italian team".

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