They are a handful – only 50 people – and they came to make some noise. From the beginning of the tournament the noise should be enough to push apart the walls of TAURON Arena. But in the first two match days the local audience wasn’t firmly warmed up.
It was not a fault of the fans themselves – there was no leader, no top dog, who could take charge of 15,000 people. The role of the speaker is by nature neutral. They can only give results and report changes of players. That's why members of Kielce fan club ‘Iskra’ appeared.
"It was all very spontaneous. We have seen that the atmosphere is not the way it should be, so we came to support the fans in Krakow and lead the cheering," is the unanimous expression from the Kielce fans.
They appeared for the first time at the Poles’ match against France, and the difference was gigantic. The white and reds must have felt it right away, because they immediately brought their opponents to the ground. Or perhaps it was the opposite, and it was the fans who stepped up their game under the influence of the cosmic match on court.
The Kielce guys admit that it is much easier to motivate the public to cheer when events on the pitch go the Poland team’s way. Fans seized by euphoria are more eager to distress their throats and bounce to the beat of drums. This affects the players further, who encourage the audience with gestures and shouts to an even greater commitment – it is a kind of self-perpetuating spiral.
The travel to Krakow is a bit crazy. Each time, the guys from Kielce pack themselves together with equipment into their cars and scoot to TAURON Arena. They do not quite have the opportunity to practice songs, so everything is done spontaneously. But they are an experienced enough team to do a great job in such conditions.
The cheering is guided by two people – Ziele and Maniek. These gentlemen stand with their backs to the field for almost the entire match, often balancing on the edge of chairs or railings in order to remain visible to the group of supporters.
It is they who decide which words will come from the throats of the thousands of people and what rhythm will be beaten by the drummers. Safety regulations prohibit them from using a megaphone, so they must shout at top of their lungs to make their voices heard by members of the fan club. In addition, they crane their necks non-stop to see what happens on the pitch.
"The leaders must follow the course of events on the court and respond to them. Handball is a sport of twists and turns, so you need to think about the next song very quickly," explain the supporters.
Usually the ‘Iskra’ crew support the club team KS Vive Tauron Kielce. There they lead the cheering in the hall containing 4,000 people. An audience of 15,000 is a huge challenge for them, but they already had the opportunity to lead the cheering in such conditions during the friendly game between the Polish champions and PSG Handball in August.
The Kielce guys say however, that the group at that time was two times bigger than it was when Poland played Belarus on Monday, and you cannot compare these situations: "Then it was not a match for points."
The great atmosphere in the stands in TAURON Arena was very much appreciated by the red and whites. Some members of the fan group from Kielce are in telephone contact with the players. "The guys noticed the difference. We received thanks for our support from them," say the fans.
It is possible that in subsequent meetings they will be joined by fans from Plock. This would be a very nice gesture of union between the rival clubs in spirit of supporting the national team.
The 50-person ‘Iskra’ crew are not the only Kielce accents to be heard in Krakow. Since the beginning of the main round one of the speakers in the arena is Paweł Papaj, the marketing director of Vive and the voice of the Legion Hall in Kielce.
Paweł’s work at the EURO 2016 made it possible to discover a hitherto unknown talent of the charming gentleman...dancing ;) His capers in the stands were spotted by the keen eyes of one of the journalists, Paweł Kotwica, and recorded on camera.
Anyway, I'm pleased to say that the atmosphere in Krakow is doing very well. Of course, this is not only due to the above-mentioned persons – it would not be possible without the thousands of people flocking to the hall every other day from across Poland and other European countries.
Congratulations to all of you for creating this beautiful tournament together!