FORMER Essendon number one draft pick Andrew McGrath still remembers the excitement he felt when his favourite AFL team came to his neighbourhood school.
The 19-year-old received a visit from his childhood team St Kilda when he was younger and on Tuesday was able to understand how much his visit to Camperdown College’s junior campus meant to the young students.
“These visits are great, as you realise how much the kids really appreciate it,” he told The Standard.
“I remember I had a few St Kilda players down to my school when I was younger and it made a world of difference regardless of who they were.
“I can just see the joy on the kids’ faces when we are just talking to them that is something special and really worthwhile.
“It doesn't matter who they support they just love having an AFL player down here, we are sort of like their heroes regardless of whether they play footy or not and I've really enjoyed it.”
McGrath, who won the AFL rising star after stellar 21-game debut season across half-back, is looking to spend more time in the Bombers’ midfield in 2018.
The second-year player, along with new Bomber teammates Jake Stringer and Devon Smith, took part in a question and answer session and ran a clinic for students, as part of the club’s second day of community camps in the south-west region.
Stringer, who comes from Maryborough, said he was happy to give back to country communities similar to where he grew up.
The father-of-two and 2016 Western Bulldogs premiership forward said it was important to invest in juniors.
“It's good to give back to these little communities and I know how much it means to them,” he said.
“The least we can do is to spend a couple of hours here and make a few kids’ days and years.”
Essendon players also visited schools and hospitals in Timboon, Noorat, Mortlake, Terang and Cobden as a part of their visit to the Western District. Cobden exports Jackson and Zach Merrett returned to their former schools, much to the delight of students and teachers.
Port Campbell hosted day one with a super clinic and community dinner on Monday.