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AFL: Whit­sun­day Sea Ea­gles young gun Deakoda Costello is one step closer to achiev­ing her dream of an AFLW ca­reer.

Af­ter only three years play­ing the sport, Costello, 13, was an­nounced as the youngest player on the 2019 Gold Coast Suns un­der-16s fe­male academy squad last week.

The plac­ing came as a sur­prise to the tal­ented teen who found out she had been listed as part of the North Queens­land squad last Fri­day while she was at­tend­ing Proser­pine State High School.

“I was at school about to get on the bus and mum called and said: ‘I’ve got a big sur­prise when you get home.’ When she told me, my mind just ex­ploded. I was so happy,” Costello said.

“When we first moved here, our neigh­bours asked if I wanted to play AFL. I didn’t even know what it was.”

Costello rep­re­sented the Whit­sun­day re­gion play­ing for the Mackay Crows Youth Girls' U14s side in the North Queens­land Youth Girls' Academy Cham­pi­onships in July.

She caught the eye of game devel­op­ment scouts and was se­lected to rep­re­sent Queens­land in the State Cham­pi­onships in Bris­bane in Septem­ber.

Her con­sis­tent per­for­mance in the ruck, strong tack­les and flair in the mid­field landed her a place in the Suns Tal­ent Academy.

Academy man­ager Ja­son Tor­ney said be­ing ex­posed to academy train­ing would give Costello ex­tra devel­op­ment un­der ex­pe­ri­enced coaches and along­side older girls.

“It’s a bit of a re­ward for her per­for­mances at a lo­cal level but also for how she per­formed at the State Cham­pi­onships in Septem­ber,” he said.

Costello knows train­ing in the Academy will be no easy feat.

She will have to at­tend train­ing in Mackay, twice a week through un­til to May af­ter which she will el­i­gi­ble for se­lec­tion in the Suns squad as they take on the Bris­bane Lions.

She will also be go­ing head-to-head with older, more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

But with her goal of play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for the Gold Coast Suns or the Colling­wood Mag­pies in sight, she said it’s all worth it.

“I’m ex­cited and ner­vous at the same time. I’m ner­vous in case I get hurt and ex­cited to play with my team,” Costello said.

“But I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing fun and get­ting to know ev­ery­one around other teams.”

The ris­ing star said she would con­tinue to play for the Whit­sun­day Sea Ea­gles U14s in the 2019 sea­son.

RIS­ING STAR: Deakoda Costello was se­lected in the 2019 Gold Coast Suns un­der-16s fe­male academy squad.

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