The much-awaited M-League will open tomorrow at the Oleai Sports Complex Field.
The league is sanctioned by the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association and according to NMIFA technical director Johann Noetzel, the competition is the CNMI's version of the prestigious Japan League.
“We took inspiration for re-branding NMIFA men's league from our mentors, the Japan Football Association, which has the J League or the Japan League,” Noetzel said in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
“The M-League will feature the highest level of competitive football on Saipan. You will see extra ordinary performances from the players and exciting matches from the participating teams,” he added.
The fall season of the M-League will have nine teams divided into two groups. Division 1 is composed of Inter Godfather's FC, Korean Football Association on Saipan, Paire FC, Tan Holding's FC, and Wild Bill's FC, while Division 2 has Kanoa Resort FC, Matansa FC, Shirley's FC, and MP United FC.
All nine squads are based on Saipan, but Noetzel said teams from Tinian and Rota are also welcome to compete in the M-League in the future.
“We call it the Marianas League because we would like to cater to all the islands in the Marianas,” the NMIFA technical director said.
The nine teams will compete in a 10-week season and the club with the highest points in Division 2 will be promoted to Division 1. The club with the most points in Division 1 will be declared the champion, while the team with the least points will be relegated to Division 2. Teams will earn 3 points for every win, 1 for a draw, and none for a loss.
NMIFA president Jerry Tan said the M-League will be the backbone of the CNMI National Team.
“The league will have both youth players and adults, who will be tapped to represent the CNMI in international tournaments. Through the M-League, we hope to continue improving the skills of our players and prepare them for highly competitive tournaments outside the CNMI,” Tan said.
“I wish all the teams the best of luck this fall season. Play fair and enjoy the season,” he added.
Opening ceremony for the M-League will start at 12:30pm and as a side event, NMIFA will be handing awards to top individual performers and champion teams in the youth spring league. Then at 2pm, Tan Holding's FC and Godfather's will open action in the M-League.