Top End Hawks return to their roots


Hawthorn brought a taste of its premiership success to the Top End with the Premiership Cup visiting a local high school on Tuesday. Fan favourites Cyril Rioli and Jed Anderson joined Player Welfare and Development Manager Jason Burt in Darwin.

For Anderson it was a return to his roots as he paid a visit to his old school in Darwin.

The 19-year-old Hawk spoke with students at the Clontarf Academy at Casuarina Senior College, the school that he completed Year 12 at in 2011.

The young Hawthorn rising star was one of 27 Indigenous male students that graduated Year 12, in what is still the largest group of indigenous males in Australian schooling history for a single year.

The Territorian offered inspiration to the current students at Casuarina Senior College by detailing his journey. After spending the previous year in Sydney with the Greater Western Sydney team in the TAC Cup, Anderson’s schooling suffered as a result and he had to work hard in his final year.

“I had to sacrifice the little things like going out on the weekend with my mates

“I still had time to do the things I enjoyed, like fishing and goose shooting, but there was plenty of hard work involved” Anderson said.

He credited the Clontarf Foundation and its program at Casuarina Senior College for helping him with his studies.

“The Clontarf program helped me out a lot and gave me a place where I could just chill out and get my work done”

The Clontarf Foundation originated in 2000 and it aims to improve the education, life-skills and self-esteem of young Indigenous boys. It originated as a football program that linked school participation and academic achievement. It was founded by inaugural Fremantle Dockers coach Gerard Neesham. Some Indigenous students face many barriers in their personal lives during their schooling and programs like Clontarf help keep these kids in the school system for longer.

Jason Burt stressed the importance of passing school and getting a quality education. He mentioned that achieving a Year 12 graduation certificate sets you up in the AFL system.

“There’s not too many players at all at Hawthorn that haven’t completed Year 12.

“Probably the most notable one would be Luke Hodge but in saying that he has finished a Diploma of Management.” – Burt told the students.

Burt said that many of the Hawks players were undertaking tertiary studies and said that continuing education in tandem with an AFL career was a smart thing to do.

But not all of the visit was about schooling. There was plenty of time for football banter and plans for the upcoming season.

“We are going to South Africa in December to visit a few universities with really good training facilities.

It’s not altitude, well Johannesburg is and we’ll go there for two or three days and it should be a good bonding experience for the group” Burt said.

The Clontarf students were also given the opportunity to ask Anderson and Rioli a number of football-related question.

There were questions such as, who is your toughest opponent? Were you nervous before your first game and what is it like to finally beat Geelong? Anderson also expressed his desire to improve on his games tally in 2014 and attack pre-season head on.

The obvious talking point surrounded the departure of spearhead Lance Franklin.

“It is pretty shattering to lose Buddy to a rival side but we have a lot of faith in our team and in our list.” Spoke a confident Rioli.

“We have a lot of depth and it means a young player will get an opportunity now”

Twitter – @JClark182

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Thanks JC, another great insight into the relationship between the AFL and the NT. I would love an additional article that was just the Q&A between Cyril, Jed and the kids. Am I hoping for too much?


  2. Peter Fuller says

    I had only a vague knowledge of the Clontarf scheme, and no idea of its reach until the Grand Final day article in the Age by Peter Hanlon. I’d thought that it was just a couple of schools in Perth, although on a visit in mid-2012, I did see a school in Broome which had signage, which indicated it was involved.
    It’s a great initiative, and reflects enormous credit on G. Neesham. The fact that players are entering the AFL system through its agency will be a fillip to Clontarf, but its success should be measured by its engaging indigenous students in education, irrespective of how far their sporting opportunities take them.

  3. Jackson Clark says

    Rick, nothing too interesting or revealing was said during the boys’ questions so I didn’t think another article would be worth it. I’ll try to summarise what was said.

    * Both boys said they were nervous during their first games. Jed said he just wanted to get that first possession out of the way while Cyril said the fact that fellow Territorian Cam Stokes was playing made it easier for him.

    * Cyril said the second premiership meant more to him after the heartbreak of the 2012 GF loss. He also said how happy he was to finally beat Geelong after all those H&A losses since to 2008 GF.

    * Cyril said all of his opponents in the AFL are hard but he finds the greatest challenge to be playing against stars like Gary Ablett in the midfield.

    * Cyril grew up supporting Essendon but said it is now his most hated club.

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