FIBA Europe paid tribute to Polish club TS Wisla Krakow and their President Ludwik Mietta during a dinner ceremony this past weekend in Poland on occasion of the club’s 100-year anniversary.
Wisla was founded as a football club in 1906 and then brought basketball and other sports into the program in 1929.
Mietta, while presiding over all the sports today, has a special place in his heart for the women’s basketball team, which made it to the Eighth Finals of this year’s EuroLeague Women season before going down to Bourges Basket.
From 1956-1982, he was coach of the club and guided the team to 14 national championships.
|Anna De Forge is one of Wisla's stars today|
Upon receiving an award in recognition to his contribution to basketball, Mietta said: “I am very satisfied with this and it means a lot because basketball has been my entire life.”
“Mr. Mietta has made an incredible contribution to basketball over the years and on behalf of FIBA Europe, we are delighted to present him with recognition that is certainly well-deserved,” said FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin.
Mietta has seen three generations of women’s basketball players come through the ranks and can trace the game back to its earlier years.
He points to the European Women’s Championship held in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1960 as an example of how the game has changed.
In this game, 30,000 were in attendance for the final between Bulgaria and the USSR in an open-air match.
The rains came at halftime and the game was forced to go indoors, only there was no seating for the spectators. Bulgaria went on to win 47-45 in a second half played without an audience.
“The biggest difference in the game today is that the defense is so much more aggressive,” Mietta said.
Mietta sees many positives as a result of the Year of Women’s Basketball.
“I have been involved with women’s basketball for many years and women’s basketball is close to my heart, so I am happy to see this come about,” he said.
The Year of Women’s Basketball strives, among other areas, to generate more visibility with the hope of attracting sponsors. This part of the campaign correlates with some of the concerns that Mietta has as President of the club.
“In 1989, after we won our freedom following years of communism, the situation changed for sports organisations in Poland,” Mietta recalled.
“Before, the government freely provided us with funding, but now we have to get our sponsors. In basketball we have a good sponsor, but money is always a problem.”
Mietta points to 1980 as the best memory of his coaching career when Poland defeated Yugoslavia 79-72 in the semi-finals and then lost to the USSR in the final.
“I was very happy to go to our first final,” he said.
“It’s a shame we could never get past the USSR.”
Mietta also guided Poland to the silver medal in the 1981 European Women’s Championship.
His one goal for Wisla’s 100-year anniversary is simple.
“We want to win to beat our rivals Lotus and claim the Polish national title.”