At work and on the pitch, Mats Hendrik Krämer is admired for his technical skills. The technician and footballer has been a regular member of the German Deaf Sports Association's national team for two years now.
I was always interested in technology. But it was only after I left school in Dortmund and did an internship at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe that I really got hooked and applied for an apprenticeship. In the middle of January this year I successfully completed my training – three and a half years learning all about forming technology at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe's Siegerland site and at vocational college. At times I found it particularly challenging because I've been deaf since birth. For example I need the support of an interpreter and a little more time to prepare for exams. But the people on my course helped me a lot, and my trainer was a huge support.
Now I work on the slitting and cut-to-length line at the Kreuztal-Eichen site and I'm more than happy in my job. I particularly appreciate that I was able to go straight into a full-time position with a renowned employer, that's definitely not something you can take for granted today. I love my work.
I'm incredibly grateful that my supervisors even make allowances where possible for my football – because it means so much to me. Ever since I learnt to walk I've spent every free minute kicking a ball. From the age of three I played with the other kids on our street, then later with my football-crazy uncles and granddad, and finally with FC Eiserfeld in Siegen – where I come from. My strengths are technical skills, dribbling, passing, tackling. Four years ago I was spotted by the coach of the German deaf football squad, I've been a member of the national team since 2012, playing as a defensive midfielder.
The last two years have been pretty eventful for me. I played for the team in the 2012 Deaf World Cup in Ankara and last year we took part in the Deaflympics in Sofia – where we won bronze; we also did well at the World Cup, coming fifth. To live this kind of life and balance the demands of work, football, and home, you have to be organized. But that's no problem for me because I have the determination and the necessary discipline.
As well as doing shift work and regularly attending training at my club in Siegen, plus the league games each Sunday, I train in Frankfurt am Main two or three Fridays a month. That doesn't leave much time for family, friends or other activities, every minute of my time is taken up. Last winter was a big exception. I had a muscle injury that meant I had to take a break from football. I really found that hard, because normally I always give 200 percent. I've been back in training since February. My next goal is the 2015 European Deaf Football Championships in Germany. I'm confident we'll win the title in our own country!
And career-wise I can imagine training for more qualifications some time in the future – but first I'd like to gain a few years work experience.