Poland: The Brighter Side of Europe
In June 2012 Poland and Ukraine, host countries of the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer championships welcomed millions of passionate football fans from around the world. Both countries can be extremely proud of the way in which the games were planned, organised and managed. Traditional Slavic hospitality, positive energy, warmth and resourcefulness were truly on show for everyone to see and experience!
I was fortunate to experience it first hand and crisscrossed Poland east and west, north and south by car, bus, train, plane, subway, trams and on foot. I enjoyed the group qualifiers as well as the finals with friends, relatives and business associates. I hosted a teenage girl from a Foundation for socially disadvantaged children at the quarter final match in Gdansk. For the first time in my life I experienced the unique, exhilarating atmosphere of the impressive modern football stadia where fans cheered and chanted, many dressed in national colours passionately supporting their teams. Many a friendship were made as new relationships formed in fan zones and pubs over scrumptious meals, refreshing drinks and seasonal summer fruits (yum, the unforgettable taste of Polish berries!). Even the loosing teams’ fans sang and danced, mingling and exchanging contacts, which no doubt will lead to numerous personal, cultural and business relationships.
The Poland I saw this summer impressed me enormously. The UEFA President, Michel Platini, said that the Euro 2012 co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine, had won the European Championship0 “for the legacy it will leave.”
The Polish economy has, on average, performed better than its neighbours and whilst the Eurozone crisis is proving to be a headache for most European countries it is refreshing to see that Poland becomes more attractive and transparent to investment.
In October 2012 I will be travelling again to Warsaw with an Australian energy efficiency company on their third trip to Poland to meet with government officials and potential business partners.
I extend an invitation to you all to come and experience the “Brighter Side of Europe!”