Northern Mariana Islands Football Association officially unveiled the M-League logo in a ceremony yesterday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium to kick off the fall season of the revitalized league.
The logo carries the NMIFA's colors (blue, white and black) with the letter M standing for Marianas. There is also a latte stone, a known sign of Marianas identity, at the center and of course a soccer ball. The M-League gives NMIFA's men's league a new face and much more prestige, as the re-branding is patterned after the prominent J-League (Japan League)
NMIFA president Jerry Tan led the unveiling ceremony and was joined by NMIFA technical director Johann Noetzel, NMIFA general secretary Ed Salas, NMIFA Youth Committee chair Vickie Izuka, NMASA general secretary Rose Igitol, NMIFA Referee Committee chair Glenn Perez, Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee head Joseph Villagomez, and NMIFA Men's Committee chair Steve McKagan.
Witnessing the launching were coaches, players, and officials of the various football clubs on Saipan.
“As we launched the M-League, I am proud to report that this league now has 20 to 30 percent players in the U23 age group. Seven years ago when we started the men's league, almost all the players are adults. With more youth players joining our M-League, it goes to show that their skills are improving and they are capable of matching up against our seasoned players,” Tan said.
Noetzel, whose new position with NMIFA was also announced yesterday, said the M League will give players a consistent venue to showcase their talents and improve their games. McKagan then added that renaming the men's competition increased the competitiveness of the league.
A U21 and women's divisions of the M League will also have their separate competition, beginning next month, according to Noetzel.
This fall season's M-League has 9 teams with Inter Godfather's FC, Korean Football Association on Saipan, Paire FC, Tan Holding's FC, and Wild Bill's FC, playing in Division 1. Division 2 has Kanoa Resort FC, Matansa FC, Shirley's FC, and MP United FC.
Both divisions will have a double-round robin play with the team with the most points (based on games won) in Division 1 to be declared fall champion. Division 2 top point getter will then move up to Division 1, while the last placer in the latter group will be relegated to the former's bracket.
Tan Holdings and Inter Godfather's played in the opening game yesterday at the Oleai Sports Complex Field. Also scheduled to play in Week 1 were Paire vs KFAS and Kanoa vs MP United. Then this Wednesday at 6:30pm, Shirley's FC will debut against Matansa FC.
Meanwhile, NMIFA would like to thank the following for making the launching ceremony possible: Pacific Trading, Co., Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and the Division of Sports and Recreation.