“Sport builds character, gives beautiful opportunities and teaches” – Damian Gawrych
Damian Gawrych – Alternative Soocer!
Some people start businesses for financial reasons – they want to make money from them, but they do not necessarily deal with what they are actually fascinated with – they only do it for money. Personally, I could not do something that I do not enjoy all my life.
I know the Alternative Soocer company almost from the very beginning of my game in freestyle football – I especially remember her with simple but stylish patterns on T-shirts. I knew the company, but I did not know who was behind it – after a while I knew who was not only managing the AS, but also organizing the competition in Grodzisk Mazowiecki – please drumble …
I invite you to read this BIG interview with him!
I see a lot of freestylers with shirts printed with AS on the competition – how did the adventure with Alternative Soocer start?
I am very happy about this view, it’s nice to see that someone appreciates your actions and wants to advertise them with yourself. He treats this as a success and an effect of the work put into it. There are two reasons for joy, people who promote or promote the brand are, after all, the best freestyle players in the world, Michryc, Szymo and Mikołaj. Currently, I support JRK, Guzik and Cyprian with AS clothing.
The idea for such action was born in 2009. At that time, the project was called Petra, with the scarab logo. It was then the first Polish fashion brand dedicated to freestylers, with their own metering, etc. Petre changed in Alternative Soccer at the moment when many new ideas appeared in my head, including Introducing street ball infrastructure, building culture, organizing tournaments, creating a clothing collection for our environment. I decided then to give up my full-time job in banking, it was 2011. I started in the Voivodeship Labor Office for subsidies for the start of a business. The story is sad, because I did not have 1 point for the subsidy, but I decided to start from scratch.
Already for some time on your social profiles, I see interesting photos from the United States of the new collection of sweatshirts – are they just normal sweatshirts or are there any interesting concept / mission behind them?
A completely new concept that was born last year. After thoughts and willingness to make some changes, business model has changed. The AS brand has also become a lifestyle brand and its products reach a wider audience. The main strategy is to prepare limited editions. Each item has its own number, and will probably come out only once. I have always put on high-quality materials, I do not use ready-made products on the market. Each knit is searched and selected for a long time, and cuts are prepared according to our own concepts and sewn in friendly sewing rooms. The price has also changed, which for the vast majority seems to be high, also for me. However, this has been well thought out and brings great value.
The topic seems to be simple in its principles. When the edition is sold out, I put a pitch to panna in one of the Polish orphanages. In addition, I will organize workshops and a tournament there. I want to educate in such places about our sports, showing them the opportunity for their own development, travel, work, etc. I want everyone who buys an AS product, had a sense of supporting these places and adding their brick to this mission. That is why some of these funds go to the pitch, part to the next collections, and some are simply production costs. I am already very close to putting the first pitch, because the sale of the first edition is coming to an end. I’m very happy about this. You can find it on Instagram @as_streethype.
What are your products different from the competition?
Probably all that I wrote above. Although I want to add that everyone would remember that AS is a brand that comes from passion. Founded completely from scratch with its own resources and strength, and developed from the knowledge and skills acquired over the years. Logos, graphics, typefaces are created by me, a person who is already 13 years in this sport, and I have a strong impression that he is a happy thirteen.
How has the freestyle football scene changed over the past 13 years? How do young people look at this sport now, and how was it before?
First of all, it used to start practically from scratch, I mean tricks, styles, tournaments, the number of players. Freestyle football times were completely different. This must be emphasized to appreciate these times. What has not changed is the willingness to train, do new things and be in the lead. This question is very difficult to answer unequivocally. The players once had many other problems that today I do not think they have young players. However, young people now have many other problems that older players did not have. Older players went through the stage of “basic” tricks, from which they were doing combo, then adding new tricks (which someone invented), it was a bit more focused.
Today there is a whole bunch of different styles, tricks that are easy to see. I have a feeling, that young people are doing things that are difficult for those times much more quickly, because it’s easier to find out about these technical aspects. I do not want to make a strong assessment of how someone once looked, and how he looks today is a very individual matter. I am happy to just add that we have dreamed about what is happening today with freestyle, but we still dream about knowing what kind of sport has potential, and whether – young or old, we dream the same.
Do you like traveling? How did your trip to the United States affect your life?
I agree with those who say that travels educate. I would add that they broaden our abilities, often open up the mind to new ideas, add energy, teach tolerance, ie open to other cultures or people. Freestyle has given me so many things over the years, and somehow, when you remember, it’s easy to forget about many things about everyday life. That’s why I firmly say that I love traveling, and I hope that there is still a lot ahead of me.
When it comes to traveling to the United States, it was primarily my great dream, which I later changed into the goal that I achieved. I was there for three weeks. This is not much, but enough to see from the tourist how people live there, how they behave and how they can live together despite the large variety of cultures. I met many great people whom today I can call my friends, with whom you will always be able to see again. To sum up, something that once seemed like a dream, today is a realized goal. It’s time to put another one target on.
You are not just a freestyler and head of a clothing brand, you also organize competitions in Grodzisk. Do you sometimes get overwhelmed by duties?
Sometimes yes, but then I know that something in me has failed, because time is always a lot, and the basic issue is its organization and approach to matters. I like how much is happening in my life, which is why I often think about what can still be done to develop or experience something interesting. However, it’s easy to get in this way, with time I realized that it’s a great art and skill to live in balance, which I would very much like.
The Freestival edition in the previous year went phenomenally – what are you planning to add, improve this year?
Thank you, that’s nice. This year I decided to approach the tournament a little differently. This previous edition was a huge challenge for me, I’m happy because I made a tournament in which over 100 competitors took part, many from abroad. There have been many partners who have never participated in our tournaments before, well-known people took part, the climate was truly street and there were many additional attractions. As for this year’s edition, there will be several changes, we will probably change the place of the elimination part and the final of the Freestyle Battle competition. This year’s edition will feature cash prizes for players.
What golden advice would you give to freestylers who not only want to be successful in freestyle football, but also engage in sports development?
If you want to influence the development of freestyle, find in it a place that suits you best, give him honor and act, stick to it persistently and count on nothing, then disappointment and doubt will not come to you.
You get into a time machine and move to the beginning of AS activity – what would you like to say from that period that could help you develop your business faster?
To treat each defeat with respect, because it is science and the only way to success.
However, everything that concerns the questions is freestyle football – what do you like most about this sport and what do you hate?
What I like the most is that freestyle accompanies me all my life, but only from some moment it has acquired the name that is now widely used. I have great respect for this sport. Behind him are incredible personalities, tournaments, memories, feelings, emotions, workouts, meetings and many others that I had the opportunity to meet and experience. This sport builds character, gives you beautiful opportunities and teaches. Being in it and living it, you can say calmly that man “lives”, just gives meaning. Hate is a bad emotion that I have never experienced in this sport.
If you had to choose between the organizer, AS as a clothing brand or freestyler, what would you choose? Why?
Freestyle, because if it was not for that, the rest would be in the realm of things unknown to me.
What do you think about Fagerli brothers’ rules in freestyle football?
I did not get acquainted with these rules in detail, I know that it is about a point system. The stage is very divided in terms of styles, ideas and what’s next. It seems to me that the solution lies in the middle. Freestyle is too broad in its scope to prevent such ideas from appearing. Some want the rule of 30 seconds to be more flexible and judging on the same principle as before. Others do not see the problem in 30 seconds, but they would change the refereeing.
What more would you introduce to the AS assortment – freestyle shoes or pants?
Pants, because everything needs to be done as far as possible and step by step.
Black or white?
Black, although these are my two favorite colors.
The favorite motto is …
I do not know if it’s a motto, but “Do not stop sharpening the sword, and the blade will blunt quickly.