ETTU | 15 Nov 2023

Dieter Steffen: A life for table tennis

Photo: Staatskanzlei NRW / Josua Dunst

At the end of September, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and celebrated this event a week later together with his family, friends and long-time companions in table tennis. On 1 November, Dieter STEFFEN passed away after a short illness at the age of 83.

"Dieter STEFFEN was a typical character from the region he was raised and lived in the west of Germany, Westphalia: In his whole manner he was not a striker, rather a midfield player with a clear view of the facts, with an always correct judgment that was balanced and characterized by competence," says his long-time companion on the DTTB Executive Committee, Honorary President Hans Wilhelm GÄB. "Dieter was also a person who dedicated himself to youth work for the European Table Tennis Union and the German Table Tennis Association with an unusual level of commitment over decades. This achievement for our sport was only surpassed by his love for his region with his club TTC Mennighüffen. I worked with him on the DTTB Executive Committee for many years; his death has deeply affected me."

STEFFEN, the retired headmaster of a primary school, was chairman of "his" TTC Mennighüffen for a remarkable 56 uninterrupted years until 2019, was at the head of the Herford table tennis district for 49 years and also took on responsibility in the highest committees of the DTTB and ETTU - for 24 years each. After two years as a member of the youth committee at the DTTB, STEFFEN supported the next generation of players from 1979 to 1997 as an unsalaried national youth manager. For four years until 2001, the Prague-born East Westphalian then continued in his newly appointed position as Vice President Youth of the DTTB. From 1986 to 2010, STEFFEN also represented the DTTB on the ETTU Youth Committee, including as Deputy Chairman from 1991 to 2003 and then as Chairman until 2010. He stays with ETTU as Honorary Member.

"The youth division was closest to his heart"

STEFFEN, whose direct, straightforward manner always won the respect of his colleagues, but also of those who thought differently, set the course for many national and international successes of the DTTB's young players during his time in office. For example, he was a major driving force in the development of the national boarding schools in Duisburg and Heidelberg, the forerunners of today’s Germany’s national Table Tennis Centre DTTZ in Düsseldorf.

"His extraordinary voluntary commitment to the German Table Tennis Association as Federal Youth Director and Vice President Youth lasted more than two decades," said Heike AHLERT, ETTU Acting Deputy President and DTTB Vice President Competitive Sports, whose mentor and predecessor in office Steffen at DTTB was, in his laudation for the Order of Merit. "Dieter was also involved at European level for over 24 years in the youth division, which was always close to his heart."

But Dieter Steffen not only left a lasting mark on the sport of table tennis. As President of the Herford District Sports Association from 2009 to 2020, he also promoted socially relevant topics. Dieter Steffen was always aware of the importance of voluntary service, which he himself exemplified like no other. For example, he created a volunteer award for sport in the Herford district.

ETTU bids farewell to a tireless promoter and developer of our sport and to an endearing person.