By Sabine Klier
It is said that a man without dreams is like a boat without sails. Poldi Käther (66) from Tegel dreamed of being able to sail again for a long time.
It has been his great passion since he was 14 years old. But since an accident ten years ago, he has been paralyzed from the waist down and was unable to practice his hobby in a wheelchair for a long time.
Now he’s back at the tiller, pulling the sail into the wind. This is made possible by a floating, barrier-free platform that allows you to enter your boat from the side.
The Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee, at 155 years old one of the oldest in Berlin, built it three years ago especially for disabled sailors. But the happy ending doesn’t seem to last…
Because the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district office turns the Steg-Glück into a Steg-Posse.
“The approval of the swimming platform was only granted until the end of the Special Olympic Games next year,” says Rolf Bähr (80), club member and former president of the German Sailing Association. “Supposedly there is no general need for inclusive sailing in the club.”
The platform, which was built with club funds for 200,000 euros – one of only two accessible footbridges in Berlin – must be dismantled again by the end of 2023.
“This is a grotesque impairment of inclusive sailing by the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district office,” complains Bähr.
Since Friday, the “International German Championship” (IDM) has started from the platform with 20 physically disabled and 25 athletes without a handicap. Next year the water athletes of the Special Olympic Games will compete here with 2700 disabled athletes.
When asked by the BZ, Maren Schellenberg (60, Greens), district mayor of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, says: “The district office does not order the dismantling, but has limited the approval. An extension of this time limit is possible if the club proves that inclusive sports are actually practiced and offered beyond the Special Olympics.
A glimmer of hope comes from sports senator Iris Spranger (60, SPD), who is the patron of the IDM: “I will speak to the district, this swimming platform must be preserved,” she promised.