Anneliese Abela - 4 October 2015
When playing a sport as team-focused as volleyball, it is hard not to create a connection with teammates, and for the men in the South Australian Masters team, that connection lasts a lifetime.
63-year-old Wojtek Mlotkowski, 62-year-old Peter Rodney, 55-year-old Henryk Glazewski and 60-year-old Adam Romanowski first started playing volleyball together in the 1999 Australian Masters Games in Adelaide, and have been a team ever since.
The four of them began playing volleyball as children, with Mlotkowski, Glazewski and Romanowski playing in Poland where they grew up.
“I’ve been playing volleyball all my life,” says Mlotkowski, who moved to Australia in 1990. “It is my life.”
“We’ve played interstate in Queensland, Canberra, Wollongong, Geelong and Ballarat.”
Over the past sixteen years they have been playing together, the teammates have developed friendships that have only gotten stronger as the years go on.
“We all met through Volleyball,” Glazewski says.
“And our friendships are not only very important to us, but also a very important part of the sport.”
“Henryk and I, we’re almost like a family – he’s my daughter’s godfather,” Romanowski said.
“Volleyball got us all together.”
The four teammates’ passion and dedication to the sport has taught them a lot about teamwork, sportsmanship, and the importance of continuing on as they grow older.
“The best thing about volleyball is that it’s specific,” Mlotkowski said.
“It’s one of the most difficult games I’d say, it’s the team sport of all team sports; you can’t win by yourself, you wouldn’t be successful.
“You rely on delivering, setting, passes, there’ll always be mistakes and you never stop learning, because each situation is going to be different – it’s the greatest game.”
The challenging aspects of volleyball become even more of a challenge as they get older, Rodney said, and this is why they all return to the Masters Games year after year.
“When you get older, your body reacts differently, and you have to learn how to cope with different timing – you can’t jump as high and you can’t block as well – that’s why the Masters Games are interesting because they’re so fun,” Rodney said.
“And through so many years of playing together, we’ve learned the most important part after games is body recovery,” Romanowski said.
“We’ve become slower, we can’t do the things we used to do, so we’ve learned that you have to establish what you are able to do at that age – but we’ve got the passion and that comes before anything.”
Passion is the most important part for the teammates, who proved they still had what it takes when they won their game against opposing team Aussie Roos, with a score of 2 sets to 1.
And while they love to win, the social aspects of the Masters Games play a huge part in keeping the South Australian Masters team coming back.
“Some of the players in other teams we know from previous championships,” Romanowski said.
“We’re not playing against strangers, so we know what to expect, and that’s part of the enjoyment.”
“All the teams that we play, we’ve played against them for decades,” Rodney said.
“It’s just fantastic to catch up every two years at a particular game.”
Mlotkowski, Rodney, Glazewski and Romanowski have a love for volleyball that is only made stronger by the friendships they have made with one another, and they plan to continue playing together for the rest of their lives.
“The fact is we’re doing it as a team, there’s a camaraderie,” Glazewski said.
“Sometimes we are frustrated with each other but we still come back together – we forget about the bad things and think about better moments, and that’s what keeps us going.”
“I don’t think we’ll ever stop.”
The 15th Australian Masters Games are being held in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
The Australian Masters Games is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia.
2019 marks Carol Redford's 30th anniversary as an Australian Masters Games volunteer. She's volunteered in every Games that have taken place in Adelaide and is back again for the seventh time.
For Australian Masters Games participant Kerryn Conabere 2019 marks her 50th consecutive year of playing netball and her sixth straight Australian Masters Games. One of her highlights of all her years on the court, is playing on the same team as all four of her daughters.
Gold entries close on Wednesday 1 May. That's right, Gold entries close this week. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!