Cracovia Club Inc started its operation in 1950 and was registered with the West Australian Soccer Association as a Polish Sports Club. Back then, the founding members formed the soccer teams with the scant funds and an uncertain future. Nevertheless, they possessed the spirit and enthusiasm to develop not only sporting but also cultural and social activities.
In the fifties, our soccer teams’ progress was slow. Promotion to the first division occurred in 1957. At the same time, the Club’s participation in the active life of Polish society in WA was consolidated.
"Almost the whole of the local Polish community was drawn to the Club."
In the sixties and seventies our activities intensified. Cracovia won second division premiership in 1966. At the same time junior soccer, women’s soccer and netball teams were formed. Almost the whole of the local Polish community was drawn to the Club.
In the early seventies, the first Club’s premises were established in a former, completely run down, Salvation Army citadel in Barlee Street, Mount Lawley, that was purchased and renovated by our members. All the work was done by volunteers who put in hundreds of hours of work to restore the building. Nevertheless, the sporting fields still had to be rented from other clubs. In 1978 four hectares of land were bought for $50,000 in Beechboro with the intension of establishing sports grounds, future premises and other amenities. In November 1988 the foundation stone for the new Polish Community Centre was laid.
The members again faced years of voluntary work slowly and painfully building the Centre. Promissory notes were introduced to Western Australia’s Polish community to help with the limited finances. Members lent the club $27,000, and over $37,000 was borrowed from the bank. Building materials were bought from demolished building sides, rubbish tips or were donated by businesses. The Club was built by men, women and children. The community spirit was incredible.
Polish post-war migrants loved their new country. Nevertheless, integration for them was very difficult. Because of the war the level of education among Poles was almost non-existent and most of them were simple labourers. Some worked away from home in the mining industry or in the desert building railways. Women usually stayed at home and looked after the children. There was no time to learn the language and the concept of “lost identity” was extremely relevant to them.
In those circumstances the Club’s function was to serve as a meeting place to provide assistance and moral and cultural support for people from a Polish background. At the beginning, it was a small substitution for the “old country”.
"The concept of lost 'identity' was extremely relevant to them"
Over time, the Club developed a strong focus on increasing adaptability and awareness about the new country. It was a place one could have learned the basic information about Australia and its socio-economic rules. Over the years it lost its primary function and became a place of cultural and ethnic diversity.
In Australia, the value of mixed culture is widely recognised. The concept of diversity and pluralism are considered appealing.The political environment recognises the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness.
At the moment Cracovia is a symbol of Polish traditions and culture for generations which were born on Australian soil or in other parts of the world. We pay tribute to those who with their hard work and very often personal sacrifice, created this club.
Cracovia Club Founders
At the end of the forties and the beginning of the fifties around 6,000 Polish refuges were among the post-war European migrants, who came to Western Australia.
They have earlier experienced the horrors of war, humiliation of captivity and slave labour in Germany and Russia.
In Australia, they started a new life in a free democratic and prosperous country. Nevertheless, the majority of them felt strange in a foreign land, among people speaking a foreign language. They were not accustomed to the Australian way of life and could not erase their past from their minds and the love of what was so precious to them back in Poland. That is why an idea of establishing a
Polish Club was born. It was understood that the Club would be founded on a healthy and sound Polish foundations, so that there would be no misunderstanding as to their Polish ancestry.
In May 1950, in a small hall at the St.Brigid’s Church, an organisational meeting was held. During the first meeting the following participants were present:
Badowski, Bilski, Bykowski, Flasinski, Gasiorowski,Gebauer, Kaluzynski, Kapuscik, Karbowy, Murawski, Musial, Muszynski, Pasachowicz, Piotrowski, Rewenko, Romanczuk, Szydlowski, Wieczorek,Wolny and others.
On the 30th of May “Polish Sport Club Cracovia” was registered with the West Australian Soccer Football Association.
As the Cracovia Club evolved, there was a growing awareness amongst its leaders of the role it should play in the community. In time, the adjective “sporting” was dropped from the name of the Club, according to popular belief that the Club’s activities should not be limited to sport alone. It was decided that the Club should play an important role in the wider field of educational, cultural and social activities.
In the early seventies, the first Club’s premises were established in a former, completely run down, Salvation Army citadel in Barlee Street, Mount Lawley, that was purchased and renovated by our members. All the work was done by volunteers who put in hundreds of hours of work to restore the building. Nevertheless, the sporting fields still had to be rented from other clubs. In 1978 four hectares of land were bought for $50,000 in Beechboro with the intension of establishing sports
grounds, future premises and other amenities. In November 1988 the foundation stone for the new Polish Community Centre was laid.
Our Polish Club draws together Poles and those youngsters born here, but of Polish parents. Our main aim is to maintain our Polish cultural heritage and traditions, so that in the process of integration into the Australian society, we can, and hopefully our children can, retain our specific identity, based on our origin.
In the past 64 years, our Club went through various stages of development and transformation, yet it retained its name and Polish character. Meanwhile our soccer team changed its name and became Beechboro White Eagles and exists to this day under the same name.
At the moment the younger and the older Polish community rejuvenated by the migrants of the eighties, enjoy a drink at the bar or a meal in the Krakowianka Restaurant. They also enjoy many artistic and cultural events, reunions, balls and other celebrations organized by the Club. The Polish heritage enriches Australian culture and Australia is not only the country of our settlement, but also the homeland of our children born here.
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Connect with the Polish Community in Western Australia.