Richmond’s Punt Road Oval is a long way from home for emerging Tiger Daniel Rioli.
Rioli, whose surname is synonymous with Australian football, grew up on the Tiwi Islands before he moved to Ballarat to attend boarding school as a teenager.
The small forward caught the eyes of Richmond recruiters through his blistering form with TAC Cup club North Ballarat last year.
Rioli was the Club’s first selection, pick 15 overall, at the 2015 AFL National Draft.
The talented 18-year-old spoke to richmondfc.com.au about his progress since becoming a Tiger.
“At the start it was pretty intense and hard when you’re not that fit, but you adapt to the training load and it all comes about really quick,” Rioli said.
“It’s a big change, coming from TAC Cup (where) you do Tuesday and Thursday training whereas here it’s five or six times a week training, so pretty full on.
“Moving away from home and coming here, everyone’s treating you with respect. I’m settling in really well at the moment.”
While Rioli has been quick to impress fans with his speed and athleticism, he has also taken the time to connect with other young Indigenous Australians at the Club.
Richmond has a strong Indigenous connection through its centre for Indigenous youth, the Korin Gamadji Institute.
The centre facilitates programs such as the Laguntas and REAL Programs, which Rioli knows all too well.
Last year he was a participant in the Laguntas Program, which gives Indigenous footballers between 16 and 19 years of age the opportunity to develop on and off the field.
It also has a strong focus on improving the understanding of the participants’ cultural heritage.
Rioli said leadership was an important aspect of the program.
“(We learnt) about your culture, playing footy and making new mates and getting an understanding about where they’re from and where they live,” Rioli said.
“Especially when you go back home, people look up to you as a leader…
“Because I live in a little community on the Tiwi Islands… you’ve got little kids looking up to you. You’ve got to bring leadership and teach them the right ways.”