The University Sports Association (AZS – Academic Zwiazek Sportowy) is the biggest sports association in Poland, operating continuously for over a century. It was founded in Krakow in 1909 and from there it spread to all academic centres in the country. Thanks to its rich history and constant activity, it has become the most numerous student organisation present at Polish universities.
Today, AZS is an association with over 30 thousand members associated in almost 200 university clubs, sports clubs and community organisations. Currently, it develops its activities in many areas: general sport, competitive sport and sport for people with disabilities. The programmes carried out are focused not only on the academic community – AZS increasingly conducts projects for children, young people, families and seniors.
The organisation’s key competitions include the Polish Academic Championships (AMP) – the largest series of sports competitions addressed to the academic community, comprising 35 sports disciplines, with almost 20 thousand participants each year. The AZS Polish Championships for People with Disabilities (IMP), a project aimed at students with disabilities from various academic environments, are growing every year. Currently, it is already a dozen or so events a year, attended by several hundred people.
The strongest showcase of the AZS is qualified sport. AZS athletes are the stars of world sport and reach for the highest places during the most important events, making up on average one third of the Polish teams. They win medals at all major competitions, including the European and World Championships and the Olympic Games. In 2021 many AZS clubs could enjoy great results in Tokyo. As many as five medallists had AZS AWF Katowice (Anita Włodarczyk, Justyna Święty-Ersetic, Paweł Fajdek, Karol Zalewski, and Justyna Iskrzycka). AZS AWF Warsaw (Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska, Dariusz Kowaluk) and AZS UMCS Lublin (Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik, Malwina Kopron) had two medallists each, and AZS AWF Wrocław (Natalia Kaczmarek) had one, AZS UMK Toruń (Katarzyna Zillmann), AZS AWF Kraków (Maria Sajdak), AZS Łódź (Kajetan Duszyński), AZS Politechnika Opolska (Dawid Tomala), AZS AWF Gorzów Wielkopolski (Anna Puławska) and AZS PWSZ Tarnów (Michał Derus).
We are also successful on international and national arenas in junior sports. Every year, our units occupy top positions in the classification of sports competition among children and young people in Poland (the majority of the top ten are AZS clubs, with AZS AWF Katowice as the repeat winner).
The organisation is heavily involved in training activities and the dual career development of student-athletes through programmes implemented in cooperation with local AZS units, universities and the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, as well as the Ministry of Science and Education. Key among these are the Academic Sports Training Centres and the National Academic Team – a programme that makes it easier for athletes to reconcile their studies with sport.
As a member of the International Federation of Student Sport (FISU) and the European Student Sport Association (EUSA), AZS actively participates in the system of world academic competition. Our athletes successfully compete in Academic European Championships and European Student Games (over 400 medals), Academic World Championships (AZS has 636 medals!), as well as in the biggest student sports events: summer and winter Universiade (530 medals). It is also involved in the organisation of many sports events of the mentioned federations. In 2022, it is part of the organizing team of EUSA Games Łódź 2022, and the Academic Club of AZS UKW Bydgoszcz will host the Academic World Championships in Classical Canoeing.
The effort and commitment have brought the organisation exceptional accolades. EUSA has awarded AZS as the best federation of the season several times, and in 2017 it was recognised by FISU as the best student sport federation in the world. However, AZS doesn’t rest on its laurels and develops further areas of activity adapted to the contemporary expectations not only of the academic community but also of society as a whole.