"Hakoach Będzin" Sports Club

In March 1913, the first Jewish sports club, "Hakoach" Będzin, was established in Zagłębie, Poland to promote physical fitness and thereby empower Jewish youth.  The club was established on the initiative of a group of students at the trade school in Będzin, Zagłębie region, headed by Yaakov Ehrlich.  "Hakoach" eventually became one of the strongest sports clubs in Zagłębie - the pride of the Jewish community and recipient of widespread public support.  The club was active in a variety of sports: gymnastics, football, bicycle riding, tennis, basketball, handball, volleyball, wrestling, table-tennis, ice-skating and different branches of athletics.  An orchestra was also set up, which performed at competitions and concerts.  "Hakoach" representatives participated in the first two Maccabi tournaments in Israel, and in the Winter Maccabi tournament that took place in 1933 in Zakopane, Poland, where they were very successful. 

In October 1918, the "Hakoach" football team was established.  The team played against both local teams and those that came from outside Poland.  In 1925, the team played in Będzin against the visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv football team.  The match ended in a tie: 3:3.   The same year, the team was beaten by "Hakoach" Vienna in a home game, 1:7.  "Hakoach" Będzin's only goal was scored by M. Birnzweig.  Between 1926-28, the "Hakoach" Będzin football team  came second place in the Częstochowa District Championships, and in 1929, they won the District Championships. 

In the 1930s, the "Hakoach" stadium, the only Jewish sports field in the area, was inaugurated in Będzin.  The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of sports unions all over Poland.  In his address, the "Hakoach" representative said:

Despite the Jews' current plight, we will not neglect the physical training of the younger Jewish generation, also vital for building our country.

During the ceremony, gymnastic exercises were performed by "Hakoach" Będzin sportsmen and women, and competitions were held in various sports, including light athletics, discus throwing, long-jump, high-jump, basketball and volleyball. The event concluded with a football game between "Hakoach" Będzin and Maccabi Warsaw, which "Hakoach" won, 2:1.

The "Hakoach" Będzin sports club was active until the Holocaust.

On 12 August 1942, the Jews of Będzin were concentrated in the two sports fields in the city, one of them belonging to "Hakoach".  A selection was carried out, and on 14 August, some 5,000 Jews were deported from Będzin to Auschwitz.

In 2019, the "Hakoach" Będzin football team was re-established on the initiative of Adam Szydłowski, as a tribute to the team that played in Będzin before the war, and many of whose players were murdered in the Holocaust.  The team plays in the Polish "Retro League", designated for football teams once active in Poland, which have now disappeared.