Tuesday 20 December 2016, 09:08

ADO Den Haag's downpour of toys

Ask a child, ‘if it could rain any object, what would you want it to be?’, it is likely toys would be somewhere in their top three responses. While it is a fantasy that you would expect not to venture beyond a young imagination, supporters of ADO Den Haag brought that scenario to life for a group of patients from a children’s hospital in September.

The kids, watching from the stands at Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium – who invite visitors from Sophia Children’s Hospital every year – got quite the surprise 12 minutes into the Dutch Eredivisie match. After some loud shouts from the tier above, they were greeted by a cascade of around 1,000 cuddly toys, flying towards them in a spectacle that warmed the hearts of fans across the globe, as well as earning the ADO followers a nomination for the first FIFA Fan Award.

“It was really amazing, there were a lot of stuffed toys!” the hospital’s enthusiastic Broadcasting and Events Coordinator Annelies Blom recalled in conversation with FIFA.com. “After they had all come down, I asked the children: ‘Is everyone ok?’ And they all replied with a loud ‘yes!’.”

Around 250 patients from the Netherlands’ oldest children’s hospital, along with friends and family, were buried under the incoming gifts brought by the fans from the Dutch capital, with enough to share among all those who could not make the trip to Rotterdam’s De Kuip stadium as well. “Everyone got a stuffed toy,” the delighted Blom, who helped organise the visit, said. “They were so proud, saying: ‘Hey, look at me! I have a stuffed toy!’ It was really fun.”

ADO Den Haag described it as “a beautiful moment”, while many of the kids also got the chance to step out on to the field, being serenaded by the whole stadium with a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, while almost €35,000 was raised for the charity in all. Unsurprisingly, those on the benches were touched by the scene too.

“It was very nice gesture from the supporters of both clubs,” Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst reflected after the game, which ended in a 3-1 victory for the hosts. “This shows children that they are not alone in their battle. The win is nice, but there is more than football.”

The children's visit has been a tradition for 14 years, but this time the reverberations were felt a lot further than the 6km they travelled across Rotterdam from Sophia's. Videos of the gesture have clocked up hundreds of thousands of views, with the hospital being inundated by news organisations from across the globe in the wake of it.

“For the two weeks after the game, we were constantly on the phone,” Blom said in amazement. “The next morning, I had tears in my eyes because of the heart-warming reaction. It was crazy.”

With ADO’s supporters now up for the FIFA Fan Award, having brought so much joy to those children, it is perhaps no surprise that they have more than just the club’s players and staff rooting for them in the online voting – but a whole legion of kids, armed with their new toys, too.

“We are so grateful towards ADO Den Haag, they were very kind,” Blom expressed in heartfelt fashion, as she lent a dose of her passion towards seeing them take home the accolade. “We really hope they can win the FIFA Fan Award, they’re lovely people.”

Voted for by FIFA.com users, you can make your choice for [who you want to win the FIFA Fan Award](www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/fan-award/index.html), with the winner to be announced at the The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony on 9 January in Zurich.