The CNMI’s national teams will be busy as usual as they are lined up to participate in various international tournaments this year.
In the youth division, the Commonwealth’s U13 squad will be competing in an East Asian Football Federation-organized tournament with the date and venue to be announced later. For the CNMI’s girls U16 crew, they will be joining the Asian Football Confederation Girls U16 Championship 2019 Qualifiers in September, while their U19 counterparts will see action in the AFC Women’s U19 Championships 2019 Qualifiers in October.
The EAFF E1 Tournament will take place, too this year with the CNMI expected to field both its men’s and women’s national teams. Mongolia has expressed an interest in hosting the competition, but no final decision on the venue and date of the tournament has been made.
The Commonwealth will also participate in the Marianas Cup with the venue yet to be determined. Guam and the CNMI usually alternate in hosting the unique event with the former holding the competition at its turf last year.
There is also a plan to send a boys U13 team for an international tournament in Manila, according to Northern Mariana Islands Football Association general secretary Ross Zapanta.
“Our players will be busy this year and we’re thankful for these opportunities to play in international tournaments, as we can only gauge the improvement of our players if they compete with teams outside Saipan,” Zapanta said.
Training sessions for some of the teams getting ready for these international events have resumed last week. Members of the CNMI Women’s National Team pool returned to practice last Tuesday at the Francisco M. Sablan Middle School Field, while the girls U13 and U15 pools reported back for their training sessions starting last Wednesday, also at the FMS pitch.
NMIFA technical director and CNMI men’s team head coach Michiteru Mita is expected to return to Saipan this week and gather back his boys to prepare for the various competitions ahead.
As for local events, the 2018 NMIFA Spring Youth League will be held early next month, while the association will be coordinating first with the Public School System and the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools before coming out with the schedule for the NMIFA Interscholastic Soccer League‘s middle and high school divisions.