The whole Feyenoord squad went to hospital Tuesday and very happy they were to do so too. The delegation paid a visit to one of the club’s most important partners, the Sophia Children’s Hospital. The outing was obviously a big day for the enthusiastic residents, but as coach Erwin Koeman pointed out, the children were not the only ones to enjoy themselves. ‘This is a fantastic day for us too; it is a great honour to be here. We at Feyenoord are proud of that.’
The children that had gathered in the hospital lobby were the first to see the full squad together. ‘That’s specially for you,’ revealed Koeman. ‘Not the photographers, not the journalists – no, you are the first ones to see the whole squad together.’ The coach spoke to the children who were able to get to the foyer, but of course some children were unable to make it. So a special delegation of seven players made up of Kuyt, Castelen, Aerts, Hofs, Paauwe, Lodewijks and Vincken joined assistant coach John Metgod to visit a number of rooms. ‘I found it very educational,’ said Hofs. ‘It is sometimes so sad to see what happens to young children. It was nice that our coming by meant so much to the children. It’s good that I’ve seen a little of what they go through, though it’s still difficult to comprehend.’
That realisation was shared by all Feyenoorders, who tried to entertain the children as best they could. Hossam Ghaly juggled with a ball, Erwin Koeman showed that he still had some silky skills, Ghaly was joined by Boussaboun for a lesson in heading and new keeper Sherif Ekramy also displayed his keepie-uppie talents.
The children were also invited to ask questions and the new coach had to field almost all of them.
There was certainly a big demand for the visitors’ autographs and the favourite medium was the special Sophia/Feyenoord flags. The players and technical staff unleashed their felt-tips and got down to some serious scribbling. Ali Boussaboun was a model for that enthusiasm. The striker couldn’t stop smiling as he handed out signatures. ‘This is fantastic for the children, isn’t it. I’m happy to be able to do this. For me it’s so little trouble and if it produces so much enthusiasm it’s great to see.’
Koeman, who is an ambassador of the Dutch National Epilepsy Fund, agreed wholeheartedly. ‘I feel it is an obligation. There is so much misery in the world and we should think about that sometimes. I’m happy that we are able to do this for the children. It’s nice to see so much happiness despite all the suffering. I’m glad we are able to be here.’