From Wałbrzych to Hamar
It has been a long journey for Hamarkameratene’s Polish goalkeeper Łukasz Jarosiński, but he is now living his dream life as a professional footballer.
"It’s only Robert Lewandowski and I who receive this kind of treatment", says Lukasz and laughs when we meet in the dressing room before the training session. He is joking because we are three people – two photographers and one writer – who will be following him during today’s session.
Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski is Poland’s star player and one of the best footballers in the world.
HATES TO LOSE"We are in the midst of the final games of the season, with important games coming thick and fast, but the atmosphere is good and there is banter between the lads on the team and a little humour in all the seriousness." Lukasz still prefers speaking English, despite having lived just over six years in Norway and having a good grasp of Norwegian. However, language is no obstacle.
Since Lukasz has the cameras pointed at him for much of the training, his teammates make sure to tease him a little. The outgoing Pole is quick to reply.
Oh dear, Lukasz!, a couple of the lads shout when the goalkeeper reaches for a ball that goes over him.
Keep quiet!, Lukasz replies with a smile.
Lukasz is usually a friendly and pleasant man, but on the pitch he gives his all and can show a bit of temper when things are not going right for the team or himself. All teams need leaders and Lukasz has this personality.
He’s a winner, explains goalkeeping coach Rolf Høgmo.
He hates to lose. He’s been at a major club with Wisla Krakow and brings a mentality that may be a bit unfamiliar to some here in Norway. He’s had a more difficult journey than many Norwegian players. The schooling’s a bit different at a top-level Polish club that for years has competed for a place in the Champions League or Europa League. His experiences and his confidence have been useful for us as a club. Lukasz is also a very nice guy who has adapted well to the club. He’s been a very positive addition, both in sporting and social terms.
TOP-LEVEL POLISH CLUBHamKam plays in OBOS-ligaen, Norwegian football’s second tier. The club is very ambitious and all the players in the first team, with the exception of the youngest lads, are full-time professionals.This has been an existence Lukasz Jarosiński has dreamed of since he was a little boy, running around the streets of the small town of Wałbrzych, near the border to the Czech Republic. His talent was discovered early on while he was playing for the local club, Gornik Walbrzych, and already at the age of 18 none other than Wisla Krakow approached him and offered him a move. This was an offer Lukasz could not turn down. Wisla Krakow is one of the biggest clubs in Poland.
His wife Patrycja makes us tea, while his son Dennis (age 4) runs around the living room, playing and seeking his father’s attention.
I learned a lot at Wisla and also experienced some nice things, and have some good memories. I conceded four goals in my first match and was really down about it, but when I got another chance a few weeks later, we won 2-0. We also had other, more experienced goalkeepers in the team, and the coach was honest with me and said I would have to except to spend a lot of time on the bench.
In the end, we agreed that the best thing for me was to go out on loan to a smaller club, to get more playing time.
THREE YEARS IN FINNMARKThere was a total of three loan spells at various clubs in Poland, and years passed without Lukasz becoming a regular starter at Wisla Krakow.
When the contract with Wisla expired, I sat down and thought about the future. I have a friend who lives in Norway who, at the time, was playing for Stabæk’s reserves. I spoke with him on the phone. “Buy a ticket tomorrow and get up here!”, he told me. “Are you mad, I can’t just go there without being contacted by a club”, I replied. But he was certain that a Norwegian club would want me.
And so, Lukasz packed his bags and got on the plane. The year was 2012. Initially, he travelled to Norway to visit his friend and perhaps find work while attempting to get a trial with a Norwegian club. A third-tier club wanted him after a few training sessions, but Lukasz’s friend felt that the level was too low for Lukasz. His friend therefore phoned Alta IF, which at the time was playing in OBOS-ligaen.
It all happened quickly.
Alta IF invited me for a trial and it ended with me moving to Finnmark. Patrycja and I had two very nice years up there. We arrived in the spring and the weather was nice for two-three months. And then came the “dark period” and winter, which was very strange to us, coming from Poland. Fortunately, I had Patrycja and we grew accustomed to the weather and the lifestyle over time.
She got a job at a hotel and I enjoyed being the first-choice goalkeeper and playing football again. I also took a painting job for Fargerike, together with my old goalkeeping coach Rafal Wodzynski, who I convinced Alta IF to bring to Norway to contribute as a goalkeeping coach for the club.
FROM DREAMS TO REALITYIn sporting terms, things were up and down with Alta IF, but Łukasz Jarosiński played well and was the star of the team. The fans and the local papers voted him the club’s best player. However, following a relegation and a promotion, the Polish goalkeeper felt that he wanted to move on and try something new. What followed was a season with Hønefoss, before getting the opportunity to play in Eliteserien (the highest level of Norwegian football), for Strømsgodset. After three years at Strømsgodset, he left for Hamar in 2017, and here he is thriving more than ever.
We have a good life here. Finally, I’m earning a living as a full-time footballer. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid, playing on the local pitch together with my brother and friends.Lukasz describes himself as a family man, who prefers spending time with his wife and son.There’s also some time for socialising with the lads, and that’s nice. We grab some food every now and then, and chat a lot, of course.But, being from Poland, family’s very important.
My wife works for a cleaning company and has Norwegian colleagues and has been better at learning to speak Norwegian, he he.I really enjoy the daily routines with training and matches, dropping off and picking up at day-care, cleaning a little in the home, and so on. I also call my family in Poland almost every day. Especially my mother. It’s good for her that we have this contact, even though we live far apart. I also speak with old friends who live there, and former teammates. Some of them have travelled to other European leagues and one of them has journeyed all the way to New Zealand to play for Wellington!
CELEBRATED WITH A SHAVing machineLukasz’s entire life has revolved around football. He has been at eight clubs since he began playing football seriously. He has now turned 30 but is still relatively young for a goalkeeper. He has many good years to come, and is enjoying himself so much at Hamar that he is not concerned about moving on.
The club’s ambitious and we hope to take the step up to Eliteserien within a few years. The only things I’m thinking about is playing well for Hamar and that Patrycja and Dennis are happy. As a footballer, you never know what the future holds.
There will always be ups and downs, but my motto is never give up. I’ve had many experiences, which I will keep with me for the rest of my life. Great victories and bitter defeats. The fellowship and all the odd things we got up to when I was younger. I remember once when we were on our way home after having won an away game with Wisla Krakow. One of the lads always used to sleep heavily on the bus. We took an electric shaver and shaved off most of his hair, you know, to celebrate. You can imagine the reaction when we arrived home in Krakow and he woke up…
The biggest star I’ve played with is Jakub Błaszczykowski, or “Kuba”, as we called him. He’s known throughout Europe after many years at Borussia Dortmund, and he’s also captained the national team. He’s a great player and a great man.
I had one season with “Kuba” at Wisla, and remember well what he said to me while we were driving to a match in his car. “Lukasz, when things are hard, think about all the times you’ve done well. And when you’re doing well, work even harder to become better!”.