Hegering: Make the most of home advantage
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One of the lynchpins the Germany women's U-20 team, Marina Hegering has been described by legendary coach Tina Theune as an "important and determined player with enormous potential". She could also have added lofty goals to her list of attributes, as evidenced by the midfielder's stated aim of winning the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2010 in Germany.

The 19-year-old has already established herself as a key figure at FCR 2001 Duisburg alongside more famous names such as Inka Grings, Linda Bresonik and Annike Krahn. She was part of the FCR side which won both the German Cup and the UEFA Cup last season, and these experiences along with regular matches in the women's Bundesliga have seen her game come on in leaps and bounds. "Since I joined FCR I've developed beyond all recognition," the U-20 international explains. "You learn something new everyday in training; then you take it away and try to use it in a match-day situation."

Hegering has already been involved in a FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, in Chile in 2008, where German finished third. "The atmosphere in Chile was superb, the stadiums were almost always full and the ambiance was unique," says Hegering, who was an established player in the team even then.

The high-school graduate was given recognition for her key performances and leadership qualities earlier this year when she was awarded the gold Fritz Walter medal for best youth player. "I just seem to take certain things in really quickly when I'm out on the pitch and that means I can help the team out," she says.

Hegering also learnt a lot from Germany's disappointing showing at this year's UEFA European Women's U-19 Championship in Belarus. "I want to get more involved in our attacks and become more creative in this respect. It's also important for me to take on more responsibility and to have more of a presence on the pitch."

Based on this experience, the rising German star is determined to lead her country to glory at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2010. For that to happen Hegering and Co will need to make it through to the tournament decider scheduled for 1 August 2010 in Bielefeld, where she would be sure of the support of family and friends from her nearby home town of Bocholt. "Playing in a World Cup on home soil is just incredible. I know from my own experience that the competition at an U-20 Women's World Cup is very strong, but our team has the quality to impose itself. We want to make home advantage count."