RISING STAR: Deakoda Costello was selected in the 2019 Gold Coast Suns U16s female academy squad.
RISING STAR: Deakoda Costello was selected in the 2019 Gold Coast Suns U16s female academy squad. Claudia Alp

Costello sets sights on AFL goals

AUSSIE RULES: Proserpine young gun Deakoda Costello is one step closer to achieving her dream of an AFLW career.

After only three years in 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 has played for the Whitsunday Sea Eagles for the last three years.

She represented the Whitsunday region playing for the Mackay Crows Youth Girls' Under-14s side in the North Queensland Youth Girls' Academy Championships in July.

Costello 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.

Costello will be one of 50 girls selected for the development program, and one of 19 from the North Queensland.

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,” Torney said.

"It will give her an opportunity to train with the older girls in region and under accredited coaches in the region who also train the U18 boys and girls.

"The curriculum she'll be exposed to is the first sort of development in the academy and she'll get extra out of that.”

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

She will have to attend training in Mackay, twice a week through 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 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.

"Sometimes playing against people who are older and taller can be a challenge.

"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.