Meet the Match
Polish Coach Envisions Ocean of Empowerment through Sports
Eliza Eliasz grew up in Szczecin, a beautiful port city in Poland. Her parents were both very active in sport and exposed Eliza to a variety of recreational activities, including biking, swimming, water skiing, snow skiing, and wind surfing. By the early age of four, Eliza was skiing and by ten, she was wind surfing. By the time Eliza was a teenager, board sports were a permanent part of her DNA.
For Eliza, sport became an outlet and a hobby that she thoroughly enjoyed. Even though she was very talented, she never thought of pursuing sports professionally, but at the university, Eliza’s talents were discovered. She was asked to compete at a few national snowboarding championships where she did quite well. This was the beginning of her amateur athletic career.
After completing her studies in Warsaw, Eliza moved back to Szczecin so she could teach kite surfing and wakeboarding to the next generation of youth. She also landed a job at the Polish Foundation for Sport and Culture, where she serves as a Project Coordinator, Instructor, and Tutor. At the Polish Foundation, Eliza works with youth from under-served communities and orphanages to promote education, physical activity, sports, and art
As Project Coordinator, Eliza arranges trips for disadvantaged teens to teach them how to kite surf and wake board, both of which require a significant amount of financial means to participate. Through her work, Eliza seeks to reduce the socioeconomic barriers in place that make kite surfing and wake boarding exclusionary and to promote these sports to a broader audience.
Eliza also uses wake boarding and kite surfing to teach environmentally safe, eco-friendly behavior. “It’s important to teach children about social responsibility, how to respect nature and protect the environment. When I teach the children to kite surf, I also teach them about respect. How we treat our environment is a reflection of how much we respect ourselves. We always end our session by collecting rubbish from the seaside and recycling it.”
Eliza hopes that through her efforts, she can also encourage and inspire the next generation of females to engage in board sports. “There are false stereotypes in Poland that still linger among women which indicate girls and women should not get involved in kite surfing, wake boarding, snowboarding, and snow kiting, as it’s thought that these disciplines require a strength and fitness capacity which only men can provide.”
We see Eliza’s passion for these social issues to be a particularly solid match for Susan and the NHL. Like wake boarding and kite surfing, hockey also requires significant financial means to participate. We believe Eliza may greatly benefit from the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” program, which seeks to make hockey more accessible for disadvantaged or marginalized populations. The NHL also has a very robust “green” program, which aligns well with Eliza’s interest in environmental issues. We look forward to the synergy between Eliza and team NHL.