Gymnastics and sports club
Westerland/Sylt e.V.

TSV Westerland

Ten years of the handicap division

Exactly ten years ago, Silke Mielck launched the handicap division together with TSV Westerland – today one of 15 divisions of the club. The group now consists of 20 members between the ages of ten and 56. “Exercise is important for everyone,” emphasizes the division manager. It was a happy coincidence that Mielck, then a handball coach at TSV, had to cancel a training session in 2008: “Instead of training, I invited a few residents of Lebenshilfe to the sports hall and do sports with them.”

On that day, she realized how urgently the handicap division is needed: “It was so much fun for everyone.” After the first afternoon together in the sports hall, it took a year before the foundation could take place: “We lacked a hall – so we moved the sport outside – the best conditions to train for the German Sports Badge for People with Disabilities right away.” She developed the concept of the division together with Peter Schnittgard and Oliver Marco Pohl, the managing director of Lebenshilfe.

It quickly became clear that a jump-start was needed – for defibrillators and sports equipment as well as a licence for rehabilitation and disabled sports. Together with Elisa Lübkes, who still helps out with the training today, Mielck acquired this license in Malente. “Allan Owen, the president of the Rotarians at the time, helped us with start-up funding, and I’m still very grateful for that today,” she said. The sports badge for people with disabilities is very similar to the classic sports badge, only it is adapted to different handicaps: for example, for wheelchair users or people with intellectual disabilities. “Otherwise, it’s traditional disciplines like running, jumping, throwing and swimming.” A restriction also applies to people with disabilities: If you can’t swim, you can’t get a sports badge.

Handicap sports on Sylt

Unfortunately, a lack of ambition is often an obstacle on the way to the sports badge for people with intellectual disabilities: “A young man with Down syndrome often sees no sense in running 100 meters or swimming 50 meters.” In the beginning, it was generally difficult to motivate the participants and get them to develop an ambition. “In the meantime, people really enjoy the movement.”

Handicap sports on Sylt

A large part of the development has contributed to the regularity of the training sessions, which take place up to three times a week in summer. “Training has become an integral part of the athletes’ lives.” The fact that it can take place again and again on this scale is thanks to countless helping hands: drivers, trainers, lifeguards and many other volunteer supporters – all of whom are thanked by the division manager.

From May to October, every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., training for the sports badge takes place in the Sylt Stadium, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. the group meets for swimming in the Lister swimming pool and every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the gymnasium of the gymnasium there is indoor training for everyone under the motto: “Fun with movement”. For example, they complete the wheelchair course together: various obstacles that have to be overcome with a wheelchair. In return, the wheelchair users sometimes lend their “vehicle” to other athletes: “In this way, the participants learn to empathize with the wheelchair users,” the trainer describes. When the weather is nice, the group often spontaneously decides to go to the forest or the beach.

Handicap sports on Sylt

In the meantime, a great cohesion has developed in the group, which also has an influence on people’s everyday lives: “It strengthens their self-confidence enormously.” The influence is also clearly visible in some athletes: “One of our participants’ gait has improved enormously,” says Mielck happily. The handicap division is pursuing a particularly ambitious goal: “We want to participate in the Special Olympics 2023 in Berlin.” Last year, the troupe was already at the Special Olympics in Kiel – but only as spectators. However, active help is needed for the trip, because a lot has to be organized: “We need motivated people to accompany us on the journey,” says the division manager. “We are also always on the lookout for additional coaches – especially for swimming lessons.” We are also looking for “running sponsors” to accompany the training.

Group photo with Stefan Reimers (l), Silke Mielck (2vl), Hans Wilhelm Hansen (5vl), Sven Paulsen (r)
Handicap sport on Sylt: Group photo with Stefan Reimers (l), Silke Mielck (2vl), Hans Wilhelm Hansen (5vl), Sven Paulsen (r)

Of course, the tenth anniversary of the handicap division will also be celebrated: TSV took a joint boat trip to Amrum on Saturday, 3 August. The excursion was supported by Sven Paulsen, who covers half of the costs. If you would like to support the handicap division or participate yourself, you can find more information on the new website under