Klaus Martin - Success in sport gives him strength

Klaus Martin (second from the right)

Klaus Martin is rightly proud of his sporting successes: he has won the German indoor boccia championship four times with the Versehrtensport-Gemeinschaft (VSG) Gelsenkirchen, twice in stand-up volleyball, and was once runner-up in sitting ball. Born in Herten in 1949, he was diagnosed with polio at the age of two and has worn an orthosis, a supportive splint, on his left leg ever since. His second passion is the world of computers – among other things, he provides help and advice to senior citizens several times a week at the AWO computer club in Herten.

The homepage he created for the AWO computer club states: „The best reward for us volunteers is the tangible gratitude of the seniors who are learning!“ The volunteers are a group of enthusiastic computer users of retirement age. They share their knowledge with each other and pass it on. The team helps others to gain access to PCs and the Internet in an understandable way. Tablets and smartphones are not left out either. Klaus Martin is available three times a week in the AWO offices in Herten as a contact person. On average, 30 – 35 people come there every week.. Sometimes he also has tips available over the phone in Gelsenkirchen-Feldmark.

He acquired his sound technical knowledge himself. He bought his first games console back in 1978, followed by a wide variety of computers. „What fascinates me about this hobby is the endlessness. There are no limits,“ he enthuses.

His hobby has also helped him in his job: „I was the link between the purchasing and computer departments – I knew about both sides and told the programmers what we needed and how they should implement it.“ A colleague at the colliery encouraged him to join the trade union and to take part in disabled sports. He became a representative for the severely disabled (now Preussen-Elektra AG and EON AG) and was a member of the works council from 1992 to 1996. Before retiring in 2009, he had been a deputy member of the Works Council since 2004.

Klaus Martin also experienced a sense of community during his time at school. Despite his disability, he did not feel excluded. „In our street, we children stuck together. On the way to school, for example, I stood on the scooter and was pushed.“ Polio is a disease in which parts of the body are paralyzed. The nerves cannot control the muscles. His left leg has no support on its own. To prevent it from collapsing, he has worn an orthosis from an early age. It was initially made of metal and very heavy. „But I did not notice my disability, I just went with it.“ So when he played soccer, he stood in goal as a matter of course. „I was not excluded. That was inclusion in practice, although the word did not even exist back then.“ If it had been up to him and his teachers, he would have attended grammar school after elementary school. But his parents could not accept this idea. They were worried that he would lose too much time at school due to his disability. „That was not a problem for me later on,“ the ambitious man looks back.

His sports career began in 1966 with disabled sports in Herten and continued in 1978 with sitting ball in Marl. From 1982, he played sitting volleyball at VSG in Gelsenkirchen. From 1982, he was a trainer and sports manager and was responsible for all departments in this role. Klaus Martin: „I was the boss of all the trainers. Playing boss is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work!“ He soon played a leading role in the club and has been the first head of VSG Gelsenkirchen since 2017. „Sport is important for everyone“. Indoor boccia is primarily about practicing coordination and concentration. This sport is suitable for many people.

Two other hobbies complete the active life of the man from Herten, who is mobile with his automatic car: his stamp collection and reading. His library now contains around 20,000 science fiction and fantasy books.

He is glad that his orthosis is now made of carbon, which makes it super light. He takes it off when he is at home. If distances are too far for him, he sometimes takes the wheelchair. This allows him to get involved at any time and keep his life moving.

Anyone interested in the VSG or the PC courses can contact Klaus Martin on 0177 32 38 132.

„That was inclusion in practice, although the word did not even exist back then.“