The Academy has been training young footballers in our city for over six years now. Academy 21 teams take part in games organised by the Małopolska Football Association and in other games across Poland. Football Academy 21 was started on the initiative of great former Polish national team players Mirosław Szymkowiak and Tomasz Frankowski, and the former coach of Wisła Krakow youth teams, Marek Konieczny. When Marek Konieczny invited Tomasz Frankowski to one of the practice sessions, it quickly became clear that they have a similar vision of young footballers training, enjoying it very much and combining fun with passion.
The idea was there, but Tomasz Frankowski left to play for foreign clubs and the project had to be postponed. When Tomasz later returned to Poland, he and Marek Konieczny started the organisational work, inviting Mirosław Szymkowiak to join the project, who agreed right away. In June 2009, Henryk Reyman Football Academy 21 Association was formed. The names behind the project are Frankowski, Szymkowiak and Konieczny, but many well-known Polish footballers have been invited to join in and have declared future involvement in training the boys at Football Academy 21. They decided to change a few things in the current Polish system of children training and youth and to share their vast experience with the young footballers. Training started in June 2009; in August, the boys played their first official game. In September, they entered official junior league games. Today, there are over 260 boys born between 1999 and 2008 training at the Academy! The first six years of functioning passed very quickly.
Apart from training and playing matches, the boys had the chance to show their skills in several dozen tournaments organised in Poland. Taking advantage of an invitation from Krakow City Hall, they went to their first international tournament in Frankfurt, representing our city. Since the beginning of Football Academy 21, its founders have stressed that they wish to train as many boys as possible that could, in future, join professional league teams instead of just achieving minor success as juniors. The Academy has established and maintained contacts with a number of clubs, not only from Krakow, but from across Poland. We have had some great guests from abroad as well, such as the teams of Borussia Dortmund, Leeds United, Juventus Turyn, Inter Mediolan, Slavia Praga, SC Heerenveen, Willem II oraz Everton FC. Thanks to these contacts, we had the coaches from the Leeds United Academy run practice for our boys for a week, and our coaches spent April 2011 on a placement at Ajax Amsterdam. Because of their contacts in the whole of Europe, many of which they are close friends, the project’s originators want to ensure the presence of youth teams from major European clubs at the events organised in Krakow by Football Academy 21. One of them is our tournament!