Players of the fledgling Tinian Premier Football Club got their first taste of competition last Saturday as they challenged Paire Football Club in three friendly games at the Koblerville Elementary School.
“Our kids had a tremendous time, they were very happy to play their very first organized game. Our kids have been playing among themselves for only over a month and these series of friendly games was a good opportunity for them to use the skills they learned from a short period of time from our practices,” coach Philip Mendiola-Long said in an interview with Saipan Tribune after the match.
Mendiola-Long and his wife Arlene brought 60 Tinian players to Saipan and the visitors played against Paire’s U8 team in first game, versus U10 in the second, and U12 in the third. Although, scores were not officially recorded in the friendly games, Tinian managed to keep up with the much-experienced players of Paire in the first two age group matches, while in the last game the visitors made several defensive stops and a couple of offensive attacks.
“You could see right from the opening match that Tinian players were really excited to play their first game against a team. There were cheering loud and telling their players to go on every time they went to attack. Paire is very pleased to host Tinian players,” Paire FC director Derek Chambers said.
“We would like to thank Paire for being such a great host,” said Mendiola-Long, who later led the visitors in receiving a donation from Saipan Soccer School and Tan Siu Lin Foundation.
Tinian got 20 soccer balls and 15 draw string bags, which they can use while conducting training/practice sessions and actual games.
Saipan Soccer School’s Jerry Tan, who is also the president of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association, led the donation turnover ceremony. Joining Tan in the ceremony were SSS coaches and staff Jershwin Angeles, Angie Ito, Ruselle Zapanta, and Irish Pagarao, Tan Siu Lin Foundation’s Maggie Sablan and Merlie Tolentino, and NMIFA technical director Johann Noetzel, who also talked to the visiting players while on the sidelines watching the games.
“We appreciate your and your wife’s efforts in introducing and developing soccer on Tinian. We know it is tough to start a club, but with your leadership and the help of the players’ parents, we know Tinian will have a strong soccer program,” Tan said.
Joining NMIFA fall league
Meanwhile, Mendiola-Long said the club will be sending a team every weekend to participate in the 2013 NMIFA Fall Youth League.
“The club was established only in July, so we are still learning our ways through competition outside Tinain. We talked with the NMIFA youth committee and told them we will be sending one age group team every week to play against club teams in the fall league. Right now we have U6, U8, U10, and U12 teams. When school starts, we will soon recruit U15 players so we can form teams and also send them to Saipan,” said Mendiola-Long, who thanked his wife for spearheading the creation of a soccer club on Tinian though the help of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
Mendiola-Long said the club started through her wife’s vision of combating obesity problems among the youth. The coach added her wife want to get Tinian youth involved in things that will get them active, so she thought of sports. Arlene went on to help secure a grant that put Tinian youth in an after school program (thought the help of DCCA) and soon more children started coming in and joining soccer clinics and training sessions.
“Now we have over 90 players and we expect the number to grow. It’s nice to see Tinian kids getting active, playing sports, and learning skills on and off the pitch,” Mendiola-Long said.