2018 Community Camp - Katherine

In February of 2018, a select group of Hawks players and staff made the trip up to the Northern Territory's Katherine region for the first stage of the club's annual community camp. In a wonderful display of commitment to the Hawthorn Indigenous Program, the touring party grew from previous years as the club continues to invest time and resources in developing and growing the club’s Katherine based programs.

AFL Premiership stars Cyril Rioli and Ben McEvoy were joined by youngster Mitchell Lewis who ran clinics for the region's school kids at Katherine High School. The boys had a fantastic amount of support with VFLW Hawks Chantella Perera and Steph Carroll, and Box Hill Hawks Nick Evans and Tristan Tweedie leading the activities.

The Katherine Clontarf Academy staff were wonderful in assisting the clinic and also organising various schools to come along for the event where we had roughly 150 students involved on the day which was an amazing result.

The players, who were joined by club CEO Justin Reeves and Elite Performance Manager Andrew Russell, also toured the Katherine Gorge which offers an amazing opportunity to see the beautiful and unique landscape that Katherine has to offer.

The Hawks touring party with students from the Katherine region.

One of the highlights of the trip was the Big River Hawks presentation night. The touring Hawthorn party attended the sold-out presentation night on the Friday where players conducted a Q&A session. The presentation night was the start of a weekend celebrating the Big River Hawks as both the boys and girls teams played the final match of the season the following afternoon.

At the matches, the gates were opened to the public with all entry free so that all members of the local community felt encouraged to come along to meet their idols and also to support the Big River Hawks. In what was a fantastic result for the community, roughly 200-300 people attended the games throughout the day. In a show of support for the Big River Hawks, Hawthorn players staff volunteered to take on the vital match day roles of all community football clubs. It was great to see the Hawthorn contingent taking the teams through their warm ups, running water during the games and celebrating with the teams at the end of the season.

The Big River Hawks.

The group then headed back to Darwin to meet with members of the Rioli family who very kindly hosted a family feast featuring local dishes such as fresh barramundi - caught spear fishing that morning - fresh turtle, magpie geese and an array of other local produce. The Rioli family’s hospitality was very much appreciated and there was plenty of praise for Cyril’s mum, Kathy, who immediately became everyone’s favourite person on the trip.

Hawthorn Football Club continues to increase their footprint in the Katherine region and hopes to assist in improving the career and talent pathways for the students, footballers and wider community members which wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support of the Epic Good Foundation.

Cyril Rioli spending time with his young fans.

Hawthorn players and staff enjoying the beautiful Katherine Gorge.

Author: Randy Briggs

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