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Deyna Castellanos and the colours of success

The star of the U-17 Women's World Cup so far: Deyna Castellanos (Photo: Paloma Gutiérrez)
by Paloma Gutiérrez, AIPS Young Reporter, Mexico

AMMAN October 12, 2016 - "The new Alex Morgan" has propelled Venezuela to the semifinals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, with another exquisite performance, incredible force and two amazing goals. At just 17 years old, Deyna Castellanos has conquered Jordan, with her incredible technique and execution.**

The talented young forward has had 14 official appearances in FIFA U-17 Women’s tournaments. Since her debut, she has scored 16 times, having won the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top goalscorer at the World Cup in Costa Rica 2014 and at the South American U-17 women’s tournament earlier this year.

Deyna’s mother, Yrene Naujenis, who was at stands of Amman International Stadium for the quarter-final against Mexico cheering her daughter on, spoke to AIPS about the crack:

“I couldn’t pay for my own ticket to watch her play in Jordan, but Deyna covered the cost of my ticket,” the proud mother started.

The 20-hour flight from Venezuela was well worth it as Yrene described just how happy she was to see her daughter succeed at such a young age. Almost speechless, then she took a breath and could only say: "[Deyna] continues to amaze me every match – but it is her duty to score," she added with a laugh.

At the press conference following her starring role against Mexico, Deyna, fully fluent in English but speaking in Spanish out of sheer excitement noted: "I'm really happy! I'm here for my mother,” she added. “Everything that I do, every goal, every good pass is for her."

Pink boots

Deyna's mother reveled some of the superstitions the young player had to make sure things were going her way on the pitch. Deyna generally believed that it was her boots that brought her luck in matches.

At the Sudamericano 2016, the South American U-17 tournament, Deyna used a lucky pair of bright fuchsia boots and scored 12 time, leading her team to the trophy.

At the start of the World Cup in Jordan, the young forward used a different pair which, despite three goals and stellar performances, didn’t seem to work for her. In the quarter-final against Mexico, Deyna went back to her pink boots and it paid off, she scored twice, and was named Player of the Match for the second time. She told AIPS Media that her goal was a repeat of the Sudamericano 2016: "I want to win another Golden Boot,” of course, the forward said with a smile, “but the most important thing is that Venezuela better their performance from the last World Cup.”

It was at the end of that World Cup, where Venezuela finished fourth, that a number of teams sought out the young player. Over a hundred colleges in the United States were intent on luring the no.9, including a handful of big names in European football.

Deyna however knew that she wanted to go to college and it didn’t take her long to choose Florida State as an ‘alma mater’. The young Venezuelan studies journalism and her mother revealed that, injuries permitting, she sees her daughter playing in Europe after college. Her mom also revealed that in the future, Deyna’s dream is to work as a sports journalist. If her reporting is as good as her performances on the pitch, she shouldn’t have much to worry about.

**Alex Morgan is an American soccer player, Olympic gold medalist from London 2012, and one of the crucial players that brought the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup title to the USA.

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