Di Donato “really excited” for season

AFTER a breakout 2021 NAB League Girls season, Bendigo Pioneers Girls Octavia Di Donato cannot wait to get stuck back into the action. The talented utility had a huge off-season, being named not only in the Vic Country hub, but also as a member of the AFL Women’s Academy.

“It’s been really exciting for me,” Di Donato said. “I’ve been pretty happy with some work I’ve put in and I’m happy that I’ve been rewarded.”

Since chatting to Rookie Me Central a year earlier, the Pioneers talent enjoyed a stellar season, playing a bit of everywhere on the field. She said her favourite position was either midfield or half-back, but did enjoy her long-range goal from 50m at LaTrobe University against Tasmania Devils.

“Yeah that felt pretty good, I didn’t think it was going to go in so when it did, it was pretty good,” she said.

Di Donato said it had been a busy 12 months for her in particular, and was pleased with what she and Pioneers had been able to produce.

“We’ve had our NAB League season, and we performed pretty well considering we had a lot of younger girls in our team,” she said. “Then went onto Vic Country, played a couple of games there and since then just been training at Pios and just locally as well. “Then into the Pios preseason this year.

“I reckon we went pretty well. “We definitely put in the work, but we definitely have a lot more to give, so really excited for this season.”

Di Donato said she really enjoyed learning off the older girls as part of the Vic Country Under 19s squad, whilst also managing a game for the Under 17s team as well. In 2022, Di Donato is looking to work on certain areas of her game to match that of her self-proclaimed strengths of positioning around the football at contests.

“I reckon I can improve on my contested ball, so tackling, contested mark,” Di Donato said. “I’ve been working on that a fair bit and will continue to work on that.”

When asked what she felt of the shorter preseason, Di Donato said it was a double-edged sword.

“I feel like making it a bit closer together is a bit easier for the girls, but playing in the heat is definitely not what the girls prefer to play in, but it’s alright,” she said.

Looking to the year as a whole, Di Donato is just hoping to play the best she can to put herself in the best position by the end of the season.

“Just try the best I can at trainings and at games,” Di Donato said. “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself at the moment. “Just to use the opportunities I’ve got to get better.”

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