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More than just a game for little Manly fans
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Patient and proud Manly fan Natasha Sljokic enjoys her time with Jake and Tom Trbojevic at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. 

The old saying, there are two sides to every story, is evident in this article.

The Sea Eagles received a request on Tuesday to visit a four-and-a-half-year-old girl undergoing treatment in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The little girl, Georgia, has inherited her love for Manly from her father, Juan Ortiz Jnr. Her sister, Sofia, wears a cute Sea Eagles dress. Mum Lisa is slowly warming to the Sea Eagles after initially being a Bears tragic.

The family’s world was rocked when Georgia was recently diagnosed with leukaemia.

 

In an effort to brighten their little girl up, Juan put a call out on social media asking any Manly fans if they knew anyone at the Manly club who could help possibly with a visit. Georgia’s favourite players are Jake and Tom Trbojevic.

Before long, fellow passionate Manly die-hard, Angela Sljokic, reaches out to Juan. Angela’s daughter, Natasha, is at the same hospital.

The wonderful Golden Eagles, through Mark Bryant and Jack Elsegood, are confirmed, so is Jake and Tom.  The club quietly arranges Manly jerseys to give the Ortiz sisters and although talks spreads on social media, the visit is kept low key.

Not long before the group arrives at the hospital on Thursday morning, a request comes from The Daily Telegraph, asking if they can cover the visit.

Jake and Tom are hesitant. To them, they don’t want people to think their visit is just a ‘PR exercise’. Your author understands, but at the same time, knows these feel good rugby league stories should be told more to the public.

Thought is given, but the boys stick to their guns. They don’t want to be in the paper for it. A photographer is turned away.

The Ortiz family are excited. Little Georgia, who started treatment on Wednesday, has according to Juan, had ‘her best night and woke up really excited’ to see Jake and Tom. Mark and Jack are there too.

Unfortunately, the occasion, combined with the treatment, is too much for Georgia. She is overwhelmed. The pain on her face, and that of her family, is evident.

In the meantime, Jack leads the boys down to visit Angela’s daughter, Natasha. Raised on the Northern Beaches, Angela previously worked with Jack in real estate. He has known Natasha the whole eight years of her life.

Natasha was diagnosed with leukaemia six years ago and had a bone marrow transplant last year. Complications have seen her return to the hospital.

Jake and Tom spend time with Natasha, signing her Manly flag and a team poster. Natasha last year received a hospital visit from Blake Leary and Josh Starling.

She poses for a photo with Jake and Tom, and asks can it be published on the Manly website!

A short time later, the group returns to Georgia, who remains upset. Jake and Tom agree to leave the visit for another day, vowing to return. The family can’t thank the group enough for bringing a smile to their faces for their little girl.

Jake and Tom have a photo with Sofia, who starts chanting ‘Manly, Manly, Manly’, much to the laughter of the boys.

We say goodbye. And as you walk past more ill children, the realisation of winning and losing a game of footy is just that…a game.

 

Footnote:

This article was published at the request of Angela and Juan, who wanted Sea Eagles fans to know how grateful they were for the visit. Georgia has since been moved to the same ward as Natasha. The Sea Eagles extend their best wishes to the families and their beautiful children.

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