Cohuna footballer Josh Treacy is a step closer to realising his dream after being named in next year's AFL Academy squad.
Treacy has been selected in the 150-player squad, which includes players who have been identified as the top talents heading into next year's and the 2021 national drafts.
Players identified have been placed in squads based on who they are eligible to represent at national championships next year with Treacy included in the Victoria Country side.
Bendigo Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp said the opportunity would allow Treacy to further develop his skills.
“Josh's selection is all part of taking another step forward on the pathway to hopefully getting drafted,” Sharp said.
“It's only the early stages of his draft year, but we're really pleased to see him get the chance to shine in an elite environment.”
Early draft projections suggest the class of 2020 will be dominated by Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects and father-son eligible players.
This means many clubs will be selecting the country's best juniors from outside the main draft pool in early rounds.
But Sharp doesn't believe it will put more pressure on the likes of Treacy to perform.
“Every player is going to develop at a different speed,” he said.
“Others might be ahead at this stage of their careers, but it doesn't mean they are necessarily going to be a better player in the long-term.
“Some players just aren't ready to be drafted at 18.”
Treacy will be joined by four other Bendigo Pioneers in the initial squad including Cooper Hamilton, Jack Ginnivan, Sam Conforti and Seamus Mitchell.
The Vic Country squad will be involved in a camp from Sunday, December 15 to Friday, December 20.
Meanwhile, a select few will have the opportunity to be involved in national camps.
From 150 players selected, the best 24 top-age under-18 talents will play against a yet to be determined VFL side in April.