Gamble pays off for Speckmaier on debut


A history-making goal on her debut is not a bad way of making the transition from a US upbringing to playing for Venezuela that bit smoother.
Six months ago, 18-year-old Mariana Speckmaier’s sights were set on carving out a professional football career in the US while studying for a degree in business administration and finance.
But one fine day the phone rang at her house in Florida and the call changed her plans, at least for a while.
Speckmaier, pictured, decided to delay starting at college in order to embark on an exciting new adventure that took her out of her comfort zone.
Having today entered the history books as the first player to score for Venezuela at a Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup, it is not premature to say that the gamble paid off.
The voice on the other end of the line half a year ago belonged to Jose Catoya, the coach of the Venezuelan U20 women’s national team, who wanted a word with Mariana’s father.
“He called my dad to ask if I wanted to play. I said yes,” the youngster told after her side were beaten 3-1 by Germany in their World Cup opener.
Speckmaier’s efforts and patience were rewarded against Germany, when a through-ball presented her with a golden opportunity to make Venezuelan sporting history, one which she did not spurn.
“It’s hard to explain how I feel right now. It’s an incredible feeling to have scored Venezuela’s first U20 World Cup goal in my very first appearance for my country,” she said about her dream debut. –

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