Wanderers defender Tarek Elrich was blown away by the enthusiasm and the positive attitudes after visiting the Cobham Juvenile Youth Justice Centre at Werrington during the week.
Elrich conducted a coaching clinic at the centre that was meant to last 30 minutes but went for in excess of an hour and a half as he put a group of juveniles through their paces.
The session was a joint initiative between the Department of Justice, NSW, and the Wanderers and continued the club’s strong desire to contribute to all aspects of the community of the western suburbs.
Elrich said he did not know what to expect when he turned up at the remand centre, which is for males aged 15 years and over. The centre, which opened in 1980, has the capacity to accommodate up to 105.
It houses young people predominately from the Sydney metropolitan area and offers a range of services, programs and interventions to address individual needs and reduce offending.
“It was a good experience and wasn’t what I expected,” added Elrich.
“You go in there dealing with young kids who have made mistakes, as we all do in life, but you see them there with a smile on their face trying to get through a tough situation for themselves and their families
“They were very supportive of me in terms of listening and things like that.
“Working with these sort of kids always puts life into perspective. Life is not always great but you just make the most of the situation.”
Elrich said the excitement initially got the better of the kids.
“Honestly, the first minute or so when I was trying to get them going was a bit … I think they were excited to see a soccer ball and started booting them everywhere and at each other,” Elrich said.
“But, once we got going and once I spoke to them about what we were there for I just said ‘look, I am here to have a good time, to make some friends and they were pretty good.’
“They took part in the exercises and we had fun. Speaking to the security and the people in charge, they were pretty ecstatic how the boys behaved.”
Elrich said he wants to get back there soon to conduct more sessions.
“To be honest, I was only meant to be there for half an hour but we ended up being there for 90 minutes and I would have stayed longer had I not had another commitment,” added Elrich.
“In the future, I will be looking to do more work with the kids.”
The Department of Justice was delighted with Elrich’s input and the positive reaction of the kids.
They posted on their Facebook site: “Thank you to Western Sydney Wanderers FC star player Tarek Elrich for visiting the young people at Cobham Youth Justice Centre.
“Young people in detention need positive role models such as Tarek, whose sporting talent has taken him to the top of the A-League.
“Tarek spent time with the boys, showing them his skills as part of a Western Sydney Wanderers coaching clinic at Cobham. What a great sport!”