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The first visit by the Barça rugby team to Japan has brought with it some emotional moments, especially when the players visited the paediatric ward at the Hospital National Center for Child Health and Development, one of the leading medical institutions in the country.
They were joined by Jordi Cardoner, first vice-president of FC Barcelona and the Barça Foundation, Oriol Tomás, FC Barcelona board member and patron of the Barça Foundation, Felip Boixareu, patron of the Barça Foundation, Jaume Carreter, social commission member in charge of amateur sports at FC Barcelona and Santi Torres, social commission member in charge of Barça Rugby.
The players were able to spend some time with children who are going through a difficult stage of their lives, and posed for pictures with the boys and girls with their families and delivered plenty of gifts. They also presented the hospital with a commemorative shirt.
The professionals working at the centre were highly appreciative of the gesture, as explained by Hitoshi Kato, executive director of NCCHD: “We are very grateful to Barça and its Foundation for doing this. We are not used to these kinds of activities and view it as very positive for the children.”
For the players it was also a wonderful chance to boost the emotional welfare of seriously sick children. As player Rochedi Mirabet put it: "The experience made us very happy. Despite the language barrier, the children and their families were very enthusiastic about meeting us.”
Jordi Cardoner added that “Barça and the players coming is a change of routine for them and raises their spirits. It also supports the wonderful job that the doctors are doing. They say that if the kids are happy, they accept their treatments better and are more willing.”
Barça Foundation and amateur sports, a long-term relationship
This season, the relationship between Barça's amateur sports and the Foundation has become even closer. Since last year, all amateur sports are wearing the name of the "Barça Foundation" on their playing kit, thus helping to take the name of the club and its Foundation to the places where they compete.
Barça Foundation Paediatric Emotional Wellbeing Program
The Barça Foundation's commitment to seriously ill children is shaped by the Pediatric Emotional Wellbeing program, which is carried out at the six leading paediatric hospitals in Catalonia and aims to foster the emotional well-being of children with serious illnesses by reinforcing positive emotions. The programme includes visits by FC Barcelona's professional athletes, as well as the "Robot Pol" project, a connected robot that allows children to go on virtual visits to the stadium from their hospital wards.
Barça rugby tour continues
Before the visit, the team coached by Sergi Guerrero attended their final training session on the grounds of the Waseda University Club, and which the club wishes to thank for its help and hospitality.
After the visit, the players went directly to the Saitama Stadium to watch the match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea. Barça Rugby will travel to Kobe tomorrow for the second part of their tour.
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