Ebonie Agostini played her first football game at the age of seven, lining up for an under-nine boys’ team.
Years spent throwing a football around the house with father Ivo laid the foundation for exceptional hand-eye co-ordination and she quickly developed a knack for reading the play.
After six years playing with the boys, the attraction of playing with older sister Claudia in the NTJFA 13-17s has seen the 13-year-old play her first full season in a girls’ competition this year – and she has thrived.
The Launceston White midfielder-forward has been named in her side’s best in all but one of her 17 games, and she averages a goal a game to lead her side’s goalkicking.
“I remember when I was four Dad and I kicked the football and we used to watch the footy together,” Ebonie said.
“We used to go across the road sometimes on a Saturday night or on the Sunday before the game.
“It’s been good because I wanted to join in with my friends, so I’ve played with them throughout the years.”
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The second-born of four Agostini girls, Ebonie played with Claudia in St Patrick’s College’s inaugural Sports Association Tasmania Independent Schools girls’ football state title this year, with both playing starring roles in the grand final win over Friends.
Ebonie also impressed in Tasmania’s All Nations multicultural side in a Byron Bay tournament last year.
“She had a few good comments from Chris Johnson, who was a Brisbane Bears full-back,” Ivo said.
“He watched a lot of the games and said how well she was playing for her age and (AFL Tasmania female talent manager) Leigh Elder mentioned that she was playing well above her years for a 13-year-old.
“She’s just got neat skills, it’s strange, footy is natural for her.
“She kicks better than the boys, she’s a left-footer and she loves a filthy checkside, she’ll run into the open goal and give it the old checkside.”
Fresh from three best-on-ground performances in the past month, Ebonie will line up in Launceston’s preliminary final clash with Tamar Demons on Sunday.
Regardless of the result, none will be prouder of her progress than her parents.
“Since I can remember all she’s ever said is ‘I want to be the first girl AFL player’ because back then there was no women’s AFL,” mum Jess said.
“Fast forward so many years and it’s actually a possibility.”