Lions in Focus: Adam Swierzbiolek

As a young boy Adam Swierzbiolek wasn’t brought up with Australian Rules Football.

Having parents of German and Polish backgrounds as well as having Greek and Italian friends, Swierzbiolek was influenced into choosing soccer as his preferred childhood sport until his early teens.

‘I tried AusKickwhen I was younger but didn’t like it and went with soccer,’ Swierzbiolek said.

‘I wasn’t really into contact sports which made me appreciate soccer a bit more and a lot of my friends (mostly Greek and Italian) played soccer so I drifted towards that.’

It’s quite ironic that now in his mid twenties he is playing in the Victorian Football League with the Coburg Lions as a ruckman, arguably the most physical player in the game and is loving eve
ry minute of it.

‘I’ve grown fonder of playing in the ruck as I’ve got older and definitely like the contact now,’ Swierzbiolek said.

Swierzbiolek continued playing junior and senior level soccer with the Waverly Wanderers until he was 15 years old when he then put all his attention into his schooling. By chance his first genuine experience of playing football was in year 12 where he filled in as the ruckman for his school and did quite well. After that Swierzbiolek never looked back.

‘A few mates down at Waverly Blues in the Eastern Football League (EFL) said for me to come down after year 12 and play football there. I ended up playing for them for a few years (2013-2017),’ Swierzbiolek said.

From there, Swierzbiolek’s coach at the Waverly Blues; Ben Carbone directed him to Marcus Buzaglo the head coach of East Ringwood Football Club who were competitors in EFL Division One last year.

Swierzbiolek signed with East Ringwood in November 2017 and started preparing for the 2018 season. Fate would have it that he got in contact with Sebastian “Seb” Spagnuolo, the General Manager of the Coburg Football Club in the VFL and tried out for the team.

‘I worked pretty hard and then got on the list fortunately enough,’ Swierzbiolek said.

He played eight games in his maiden Division One season as well as combining duties with the Coburg Football Club debuting for the Lions in May against Williamstown before playing a further five matches in his first year in the VFL.

Unfortunately East Ringwood was relegated from Division One for the first time since 1973 leaving Swierzbiolek unsure of his next move.

Clubs in EFL Division One and Two sought out the talented big man but Swierzbiolek knew that to progress his career he had to push on and strive for bigger things.

‘I was with East Ringwood last year and played a few games there; but they got relegated for this season so I sort of wanted to challenge myself,’ Swierzbiolek said.

‘I wanted to play against better ruckman then EFL Division Two would allow me to so I looked at changing leagues.’

Originally seeking opportunities at Division One clubs in Northern Football League for the 2019 season, Swierzbiolek’s path took a turn in a different direction.

‘I looked at the Northern Football League and got in contact with “Seb” and he put me onto Christian Stagliano the coach at Macleod. I met up with him and liked the vibe and pretty much signed straight away,’ he said.

Swierzbiolek too had made a strong impact in his first season with Coburg that he was given a contract for the 2019 season.

‘When I got this opportunity my parents said to me “Push yourself really hard, not many people get this opportunity, take it with both hands”.’

‘Anything I do they’re always there caring, always at games watching me play. As a kid they encouraged whatever I was into, didn’t force me into doing anything I didn’t want to do. I probably couldn’t have asked for any more supportive parents.’

Now in his second year at the Coburg Football Club, the man known by his friends and teammates as “Swizz” is enjoying his time and has embraced what Coburg is all about.

‘I just like that it’s stand-alone and that it has a real club feel to it. Everyone cares about each other and looks at each other as an equal,’ Swierzbiolek said.

‘Everyone feels like that we all support each other and know that we’re going to have their backs come the weekend. There is really good friendship and mateship that goes on here.’

As well as playing for Coburg in the VFL, the 24 year old from Mulgrave works as a carpenter five days a week and if there is time available on the weekend, “Swizz” too takes that onboard.

‘I’m pretty much flat out with work. I’m a chippy and I work five days a week. I do a few cash jobs on the weekend if I’ve got time,’ Swierzbiolek said.

‘Between footy and work there isn’t much time for other things….I did architecture at school, I liked my design, always liked woodwork and could draw. I did year 12 and got a pretty good score and got into an architecture course.’

Ultimately Swierzbiolek realised that he preferred the hands on approach and undertook and apprenticeship with Warwick Constructions in Hawthorn East. Currently he is now working with Kingdom Constructions in Heidelberg West.

‘I enjoyed the carpentry apprenticeship, stuck with that and haven’t looked back,’ Swierzbiolek said.

Having only played the game since 2013, Swierzbiolek has come a long way in such a short amount of time, moving from Waverly Blues Under 19s to playing for the senior team in Division Two within his second season. He is putting no limitations on how far he can still go.

‘Once I joined the Waverly Blues after year 12 I just played with mates and had fun. I guess I developed fairly quickly from where I used to be (playing soccer) and then I suppose a few people believed that I could play at a higher level,’ Swierzbiolek said.

‘It flowed on from there going from Division One and now VFL. I had no idea what I could achieve but I’m here now and it has got me more determined than ever to see what level I can play. Keep focused and trying and see where it gets me.’

With AFL clubs expanding their views on state league clubs, the upcoming mid-season draft is an opportunity for many footballers like “Swizz” who harbours ambition of one day getting drafted into the AFL.

‘I still need to learn a lot but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to push for that. You never know what can happen,’ Swierzbiolek said.

With the departure of captain and ruckman Tom Goodwin to Port Melbourne, Swierzbiolek has taken his opportunity with both hands establishing himself as Coburg’s number one ruckman. So far this season Swierzbiolek has played in all five fixtures and is averaging 19 hit outs and 10 disposals per game.

‘This year I’ve been given the opportunity to be the number one ruckman, so it’s worked out in my favour,’ Swierzbiolek said.

If he isn’t able to achieve his goal of playing in the AFL, Swierzbiolek hopes to one day open up his own carpentry business.

‘It would be awesome if I could get into the AFL but if it’s not to be than I’d like to be successful in carpentry and hopefully run my own show. I want to be in charge of a business.’

At the conclusion of the VFL season Swierzbiolek prefers to spend his time travelling.

‘I like to holiday when the season is over. I went to Japan last year, which was pretty good. I’m going to America later this year, I’ve never been there and I’m looking forward to it.’

A huge UFC fan and other sports, “Swizz” describes himself as a ‘persistent, hardworking’ and ‘honest’ individual and tries to live with having a selfless attitude.

‘It’s really important, you can treat people all the same and be really selfless, allow other people opportunities and it will come back to you. What goes around comes around.’

 

BY NICHOLAS GALEA