IF THERE is one place where Cyril Rioli feels more comfortable than he does when he's on the MCG with footy in hand, it is in the stifling heat of the Northern Territory.

The popular Hawthorn star, who grew up in the Tiwi Islands and Darwin, loves nothing more than returning to the Territory and seeing the joy on the faces of the young children who, like he once did, dream of life as an AFL star.

This week, Rioli has been part of a Hawks touring party visiting remote Katherine, around 300km south of Darwin.

Along with fellow player Jed Anderson, 2008 premiership hero Chance Bateman, assistant coach Luke Beveridge and other members of the club's staff, he is spreading a message of healthy eating and education to the footy-mad children of the area.

He may only be 24, but the two-time premiership Hawk understands the impact he can have on the next generation of indigenous youth.

"Being from the Northern Territory, I guess everyone sort of knows who you are, so for me the next step is to be a good role model and get kids going in the right direction," Rioli told AFL.com.au from Katherine.

"Being able to tell my story, of moving away from home at a young age to pursue an AFL career – some of them might not have got it, but some would have, and if I can help one or two kids, it's worthwhile.

"Some of these kids out here don't really have much.

"To visit these places, it might help motivate them to start something."

As popular as the players are in the NT, they have played second fiddle this week to another member of the touring party: Hawthorn's 2013 premiership cup.

According to Rioli, the locals have met the silverware's presence with disbelief.

"Their jaw just drops to the ground when they see the cup," he said.

"It's priceless."

The trip is Hawthorn's 10th to the area since 2009 as part of the AFL club partnerships program, and has featured a training session with affiliate club the Big River Hawks, a Katherine-based under-18s team.

Drawing on players from an area the size of Victoria, the Big River Hawks travel to Darwin each weekend to play in the NTFL competition.

Football is used as an incentive to achieve greater things – those who are not enrolled in school or training, or employed in a job, are not allowed to play for the Hawks.

The itinerary has also included hospital and school visits, including a stop-off at Casuarina Street Primary School, where Anderson started his education before moving to Darwin at age 11.

In Bulman, a remote community 300km to the north-east of Katherine, the Hawks were greeted with a traditional dance from local schoolchildren, and presented by elders with the didgeridoo played at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Hugely honoured by the gesture, Rioli said it would likely find pride of place in the Hawthorn museum, or another prominent place within the club.

Although he had made only one previous trip to Katherine – for a game of football as a schoolboy – Rioli said the warm welcome had made him feel like an old friend.

"Whenever I'm in the heat up here, anywhere in the NT, I feel like I'm back home," he said.

"I love the NT, and I love Aboriginal people, so it's nice to be up here."

Cyril Rioli plays with the Bulman Community youngsters. Picture: Sean Garnsworthy, AFL Media

Children from the Bulman Community welcome the Hawks. Picture: Sean Garnsworthy, AFL Media

Rioli takes a walk in Katherine Gorge during the Hawks' visit: Picture: Sean Garnsworthy, AFL Media