A top-class sportswoman never gives up

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970x404-Blog Karin vd Haar

My sitting volleyball team hasn’t won a gold medal yet, but we are training hard to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. In addition to my sports career, I also work as a Participation Advisor at ABN AMRO. I have a physical impairment, so I’m just the woman for the job. I’m the linking pin between the bank, organisations and businesses that are looking to hire somebody with a disability.

The nice thing about working at ABN AMRO is that I have the freedom to make my own plans and I have a lot of responsibilities. Profielfoto Karin van der Haar Karin van der Haar Participation Advisor

I originally played volleyball in a regular team. That changed when the national coach of the sitting volleyball team scouted me and asked me to join the sitting volleyball team. I had never heard of it, but it seemed like a big challenge. I’m a bit of an odd one out as there’s nothing wrong with my legs – I lost an arm in an accident. I debuted in February 2007, and in September of that year we took gold at the European Championship. Now, that’s what I call a flying start! We also won a place at the Paralympics in Beijing, where we ultimately got a bronze medal. We’re currently training very hard to make the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Boy, would I love to take a gold medal home some time.

Never give up

Training for the Paralympics takes up a lot of time. I often have to train on my days off and in the evenings – you have to stay strong and keep in shape. A top-class athlete never gives up and always wants to perform better. Our team has come in fourth or fifth place a few times. What a disappointment, missing the prize by a hair. But in the end, you learn from your setbacks. When that happens, we revise our goals, making them more realistic, and work out a plan to achieve them. Then if we do make it to the top three, success is even sweeter.

Conquering the Netherlands

The nice thing about working at ABN AMRO is that I have the freedom to make my own plans and I have a lot of responsibilities. This is a huge contrast with my sports career, which requires me to live a very regular life. Also, most customers don’t expect ABN AMRO to have a Participation Advisor. The fact that we advise on labour force participation is unique – we are the only bank that offers this service. My role is to inform customers about the Disabled People Participation Act, which took effect on 1 January 2015. A lot of customers are interested in this, but don’t have time to read about it. I also advise customers on what to take into account when a disabled person takes a job, so that both the employer and the employee are satisfied. We’re currently running a pilot in the south of the Netherlands designed to support customers. My ultimate goal is to roll out this project throughout the Netherlands.


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