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Goal for Debs is American contract.

Byline: Adam Steel

Soccer hotshot Debs Brereton hopes to blast her way to a professional contract in the United States this season.

The Middlesbrough 22-year-old will play semi-pro for Hampton Roads Piranhas in Virginia Beach when their campaign kicks off in May.

And she is determined to shine with a place in the soon-to-be relaunched Women's United Soccer Association potentially up for grabs.

"This season is all about getting people to sit up and take notice of me and hopefully I can get a professional contract next season," said the former Boro Ladies forward.

"I'm determined to make it in America. Things are being set up with the professional league and I'm going to get myself into the best shape possible."

Debs has certainly impressed since moving to the US in the summer of 2001.

She was Northeastern University's Most Valuable Player after being invited on to a scholarship in Oklahoma.

After moving to Middle State University in Tennessee, she then captained the team to their first championship win, was voted Sun Belt player of the year for 2004 and scored 19 goals.

But the PE undergraduate had a nightmare 2005, missing the whole season after breaking her collarbone in training.

"I'd scored three goals in two pre-season games as well," said Debs.

"It wasn't the best time for me from a playing point of view, but it was a good test of my mental strength.

"I'm fine again now, and this season is all about improving my stats and getting coaches' attention.

"Our team has Australian, Brazilian and Nigerian internationals and won the W League in 2003. We didn't do so well last year, but hopefully we can get right up there again."

Debs says she still has aspects of her game to brush up on - "I'm only 5ft 2in and need to improve in the air".

But she is happy with her finishing, after having worked hard on it, and eventually plans to win England caps.

"I'm going to give it a good shot," she said. "I'm starting to reach my peak and my confidence is getting higher. In the next few years I hope to be really knocking on the door.

"And I couldn't have got as far as I have without the support of my mum and dad Patrick and Elaine, sisters Joanne and Nicola and brother Shaun."

Debs gave one of her US playing shirts to former school Abingdon Primary on a recent trip home.

It sits proudly alongside the school's collection of Boro memorabilia and headteacher Bob Eastwood said: "Debbie is a great example to our children.

"She is following her dream through hard work and resolve."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 15, 2006
Words:443
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