A sea of sweat soaked teens swarmed to Hawthorne Hawks players at Katherine High School today.
Members of the Hawthorn Football Club are visiting Katherine this weekend as part of a series of community camps.
Cyril Rioli, a 185-gamer, is one of the favourites of the AFL, and of AFL fans in the NT.
“I am very excited to be here in Katherine,” Rioli said.
“I was once a kid and had people I looked up to, but it was still funny having all the kids come up to me. I still think of myself as a regular guy.
“The NT is home for me, I don’t get to come to Katherine much so it is great to be here.
“I wanted to come here to give back, I hope I can help some of the kids out, I understand what a lot of them are going through,” the star said.
Katherine High School teacher Ryan Williams said the kids were “more than eager” for the visit.
“The kids are just so excited,” Mr Williams said.
“He is a professional athlete and a really great role model for the kids, especially for a lot of our Indigenous students who can relate to him and see how far he has gone with the game.”
High school student Tobias Hume was beaming after he got his cap signed by Rioli.
“It was so cool,” Mr Hume said.
“He is my favourite footy player. I have videos of him playing on my phone that I like to watch. I love him.”
Rioli spent the first eight years of his life in the Tiwi Islands before moving with his family to Darwin in the Northern Territory, playing his younger years at St Mary's.
His father Cyril Jr. was a champion NT footballer and the brother of the star Richmond midfielder Maurice Rioli.
Essendon two-time premiership player Michael Long and another former footballer, Dean Rioli, are cousins.
Another cousin, Daniel, was a standout in last year’s Richmond premiership win.
St Joseph Catholic College student William Daforno said
“I love the way he plays, he is a real team player,” Mr Daforno said.
“I didn’t even realise he would be coming so I was so excited he was here.”
Ruckman Ben McEvoy is also among the party here to watch the Big River Hawks Under 18s team play their final match of the season, and one of the rare home games, at Nitimiluk Oval tomorrow.
The game at the showgrounds will kick off with the Under 18s girls team, coming off the back of a season-opening win last match, starting at noon.
The boys game will start at 2pm.