The Wanderers Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League squads helped bring smiles to the faces of many children during their annual visit to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Decked out in Santa hats and with plenty of presents to hand out, the players enjoyed the Christmas spirit with the kids and their families as they helped them forget their health issues for a few hours.
As an ambassador for the Children’s Hospital, Wanderers defender Tarek Elrich is an old hand at these occasions and there is nothing he loves better than interacting with the kids, handing out presents and seeing the sheer happiness.
“I am an ambassador so I come here a bit more to appreciate just what the kids go through,” said Elrich.
“They are the real fighters and it is just a humbling experience to be here.”
Elrich was particularly taken by the reaction of the kids after they have been handed a Wanderers jersey.
“To give out a Wanderers jersey and to see them rip off his superhero shirt, replace it with the Red & Black hoops and see them so happy is really special,” Elrich added. “It makes their day.”
Wanderers captain Erica Halloway has also been a regular on these occasions and it is something she always looks forward to and embraces.
“I love doing this visit every year and have been doing it for five years and I make sure I am here every time,” said Halloway.
“This is probably the one thing on our calendar I love getting to.
“The kids are just amazing, they are the true heroes.
“A lot of them are going to be in hospital over Christmas and a lot of them have been in there for probably other times, like Easter and their birthdays and to just be able to put a smile on their face goes such a long way for them and their families.”
Halloway also sang the praises of the Westmead staff, who are often the forgotten people.
“Walking through the wards, it is amazing to see what the staff do for the kids, said Halloway.
“They were all decked out and colourful and had all the things the kids love. I think that goes a long way for the kids and their time in here.
“For me, going in and just seeing some kids who have been in there for months and just the character they show and the big smiles on their faces, is inspiring.
“They might have been a bit shy to start with, but then they just take your heart when you are with them and smiling through possibly their toughest times they are going through.”
Wanderers defender Daniel Georgievski said he was humbled by the experience.
“It’s amazing, not only for us as as a club but us as players to go an see how people sometimes do it tough around this time of the year while everyone is at home and being with family and friends,” Georgievski said.
“Some kids especially don’t have that privilege.
“To be here personally, you get to see how it works, how the system is and how friendly people are and you take that into your day to day.
“I want to see smiles on the faces of the kids and when that happens then that is the richest part of life.”