DISTRICT youngsters had a rare opportunity to meet their heroes on Tuesday when seven Essendon players visited local schools.
Unfortunately the players' visit was delayed because of thick fog. with their plane late in leaving Melbourne and then forced to circle Kerang and wait for the haze to clear.
This meant a clinic scheduled for Kerang primary schools at McLeod Oval had to be cancelled, but all was not lost, with a revised itinerary swiftly organised.
Instead, the players took part in a question and answer session at Kerang's primary schools where they were bombarded with a series of insightful and considered questions.
The headline act was 300-gamer James Kelly, who was joined by Darcy Parish, Alex Morgan, Mason Redman, Aaron Francis, Michael Hartley and James Stewart.
For Hartley the visit was a homecoming of sorts, having recently proposed to Kerang's Tegan Lightbody.
Kerang South Primary School principal, Lyn Veall said the opportunity to meet AFL players was always coveted by students.
"It's a really good opportunity for the students to talk to the players and hear about life as an AFL footballer," she said.
"The players have done a wonderful job of answering the students' questions and explaining how they got to where they are.
"They've talked about setting goals and working hard to reach those goals, which is really inspiring for the students."
Several players also visited Kerang Christian College before the group had lunch locally.
In the afternoon the players travelled to Cohuna and hosted a clinic at the secondary college, with students from Barham Public School, Cohuna Consolidated School, St Mary's, and the Leitchville and Gunbower primary schools taking part.
AFL Victoria football development manager, Jamie Macri said player visits to rural areas was an important part of the AFL's mission.
"To get AFL players we're very fortunate, it's always special to see them and to get to talk to them, so it's a great thing for country communities," he said.
"Five out of seven of these boys played seniors at the weekend so it's a really good list."