Football: Profile of an international player

Andreas Timm plays in the German national football team for people with disabilities. The 31-year-old has already played for his country in three World Cups. In 2003, he and his team mates took fourth place in Japan. "It would be great if we could make it to the World Cup finals in our own country," stated Andreas Timm in an interview with Lebenshilfe magazine.

With his broad back, muscular arms and thighs, he is a striking sight. However, if you mention it to him, he immediately explains: "I don't work out. It's all down to completely normal training and my job." Andreas Timm works in the nursery at the Engelbert home a charitable institution in Essen. He lives there too, in an external residential group for disabled people. As a child, Andreas Timm used to play football in a club, today he plays for ESV Essen-Frillendorf in division A. Mainly as a striker, but I can play in all positions. The blond player joined the German team at the age of 19. "The Manager, Wolfgang Warnke, asked me whether I wanted to play in the World Cup. At first I thought he was pulling my leg."

Star player - Team player

During his eleven years with the national team, Timm has become its star player, a role he takes very seriously. On the pitch he issues loud orders and on the sidelines he can often be found talking to his team mates."I try to help new players and pass on the trainer's advice." The Essen-based player wants to set an example and is not too proud to carry everyone's boxes of water onto the team bus. Timm trains hard - three times a week at the club and twice with the team at the Engelbert home. "We have an English week, you need a lot of strength for that," he explains. He has read in a newspaper that he's now a star. That's not what I want. I'm just part of the team. We win and lose together. "I would put my hand in the fire for the boys," stated Andreas Timm firmly and with conviction - however, there's a touch of pride in his voice when he says the word "star" and a little sparkle in his eyes. And why not? Ballack and Kahn are stars too, among eleven outstanding players.
Andreas Timm is extremely proud to have been part of the national team for so long: "You've done it boy," he says to himself, "you're playing for Germany." He is not concerned that it's "only" the team for people with intellectual and learning disabilities. "It sometimes takes a bit longer for something to click in my head. People should accept me as I am. If not, they can get stuffed." Timm's club mates at ESV Essen-Frillendorf understand this: "They know exactly where I come from and have completely accepted me."

The Essen-based player owes a great deal to Willi Breuer, the German coach who has managed the national team from the very start, since 1992. Willi is my role model, almost like a father. "I've spent most of my life in a home," he explained. I used to be very stubborn, and a bit cheeky. I've learnt a lot from Willi Breuer. But sometimes Willi can be a swine as well. "You need to bite your tongue." And how does Andreas Timm rate Germany's chances in the 2006 World Cup? "It would be great if we could make it to the World Cup finals in our own country." Brazil is technically better, the Dutch make a good showing. "But we keep on fighting," he said, referring to his team of course. He has little interest in the other national team under coach Klinsmann: "When their World Cup starts I'm concentrating on my own Championships."

The second 2006 football World Cup

The football World Cup for people with mental and learning difficulties will take place between 26 August and 17 September 2006. 48 matches in 41 German towns and four states are scheduled. All of the 24 main rounds will be held in the North-Rhine Westphalia region. The opening ceremony in front of around 15,000 spectators will take place on 27 August in the Cologne arena. The Leverkusen BayArena is the venue for the final on 16 September. The organizers are expecting 16 teams from 16 countries. England, the reigning world champions, and Germany, the host, are the favorites. Teams from Brazil, France, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Hungary will also be taking part. Johannes B. Kerner presided over the group draw on 28 April in Berlin.

The official title of the competition is the "4th INAS-FID football World Cup." The abbreviation "INAS-FID" stands for the International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability. This is the world association for sport for people with intellectual and learning disabilities. The World Cup in Germany is the fourth of its kind. The first was held in 1994 in the Netherlands, and the last in 2002 in Japan. All the competing athletes have intellectual or learning disabilities. This definition for this kind of disability is an IQ of under 75, the average intelligence of a ten-year-old child.

Support from many groups

The organizer of the 4th INAS-FID football World Cup is "Fußball WM 2006 der Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH". Shareholders of this non-profit making company include the Deutsche Behindertensportverband (DBS - German association of sports for the disabled), the Lebenshilfe für Menschen mit geistiger Behinderung (Association supporting people with intellectual disabilities) North-Rhine Westphalia regional branch, and the Behindertensportverband NRW (BSNW - North-Rhine Westphalia association of sports for the disabled). The DFB is supporting the event by providing referees and funding training camps. The project is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Aktion Mensch and the Wohlfahrtspflege North-Rhine Westphalia foundation. The patron is the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The event will be accompanied by the "Gesellschaftlichen Kampagne", a campaign aimed at bringing together able-bodied individuals and people with disabilities to make a long-term contribution towards their integration in society.

Source: Peer Brocke, Lebenshilfe Bundesvereinigung