Online darts with his Sunflower buddy: the contact is truly a relief during Martijn's busy work life

As head of communications Netherlands at chip manufacturer NXP, Martijn van der Linden has a full work week. Internal and external communications, media spokesperson, arranging sponsorship policy and corporate social responsibility: with a lot of work, it's a dynamic, busy job. In the contact with his buddy Kim, he finds a moment of peace and perspective.

When the Netherlands was in lock-down in 2020, Martijn struck up a conversation with Esther of Samen voor Eindhoven. "We have been working together for a long time on all kinds of projects linking workers to social organizations. Esther told me that she herself was a digital buddy of someone in order to break through the loneliness that was particularly prevalent among vulnerable people at the time. I thought that was such a good idea that I asked if she could also do something for me." Samen voor Eindhoven made contact with De Zonnebloem and so Martijn was paired with Kim, a man with relatively few social contacts.

Online darts

NXP is committed to a variety of projects and charities. Employees are also encouraged to get involved socially. "We do a lot of technology promotion in schools, support student teams working on tech innovation, and support employees and organizations who are committed to charities." Being paired with a buddy is one of the possibilities. Martijn and Kim had planned to play online chess after their first digital acquaintance. Kim got bored of that, as Martijn was more practiced at the game. "Kim suggested giving darts a try. He figured out how online darts worked and then sent a link for an online game followed by a Whatsapp phone call to chat while darting."

A valuable contact

The half-hour darts are a valuable addition once every two weeks for both men. Initially the match was supposed to last half a year, but after two years the contact is still there. Martijn enjoys being in another world for a while. "I sometimes stress tremendously about deadlines and am in (online) meetings a lot. Then such a short conversation with Kim is a relief, because in this totally different world it is not about deadlines and performance. Kim's world is very different and I like to see that he is happy in his own way. I travel all over the world and get everywhere. It's different for him, but when he does get to go somewhere, like the fair or a festival, it's a real celebration for him. He can enjoy it immensely and be completely full of it. That's a reality check for me: it doesn't always have to be bigger, further, more. For Kim, the contact is also very valuable. "I just really like and enjoy playing darts with Martijn. I look forward to it; after all, it's a distraction from ordinary life. Martijn is very friendly, I like him a lot. Once, to my surprise, Martijn brought a real dartboard to my house. Apparently he really likes it too. "Well, if you can make someone happy with that, fine right? And it cuts both ways, because I really like it too."

Just in the here and now

Still the men speak digitally every other week. For Kim, a pleasant addition to his quiet life. And for Martin a welcome break in his everyday busy existence. "With Kim, I'm just in another world. We play darts and chat a little. No complex, heavy topics, like wars and environmental issues, but at most the weather. I enjoy his authenticity and his boundless optimism and relativism. He is a mirror, a confrontation. With him, I am simply in the here and now. Darts, chats, it can be that simple."

Text: Annemieke Dubbeldeman