Northern Mariana Islands Football Association sent a group to Guam to attend a referee course that will be conducted by East Asian Football Federation.
Don Cabrera, Davy Laxa, Jeralyn Castillo, Mia Carreon, Katherine Magat, Floyd Muna, Merrick Toves, Sebastien Manabat, and Taka Borja left Saipan yesterday morning for the four-day course that will be held at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo, starting today.
“We would like to thank EAFF, AFC, and GFA for giving these young individuals a chance to attend the referee course. We do not have many qualified referee instructors here, so if there’s an opportunity for us to attend a course and educate our referees, we have to grab that,” NMIFA general secretary Ross Zapanta said, noting that majority of the individuals they sent to Guam are in the U18 age group.
“It’s very advantageous to us to send young people to the referee course because by having these youth attend the course, we’re giving them a strong foundation. As the saying goes, you have to start them young. Also, these individuals play for various clubs and sometimes they are assigned to referee matches in the lower age groups, so as a player and referee, we hope they will have a better understanding of officiating after attending the course in Guam,” Zapanta said.
Toves, who plays for Kanoa Football Club’s and officiates small-sided games in U6, U8, and U10 division, is excited to learn from the experts since it will be his first time to attend such course.
“It’s very important for me to attend this course since I am just knew to refereeing. The course will be very helpful, as I want to get better at making calls and know more about refereeing a match,” Toves said.
Carreon, who is part of the CNMI Women’s National Team pool and also volunteers as referee in matches in NMIFA Youth League, said that by completing the course, they hope to share their knowledge to others when they get home.
“This referee development course is instructed by former FIFA referees. Because Saipan referees rarely have the opportunity to participate in a course like this, most especially the new ones, this course is critical in developing our referee skills. We would know more about offsides, fouls, throw-ins, and so much more. As a player, it will also increase our knowledge of the game. Hopefully, at the completion of this course, we can all share our experiences with the incoming referees,” Carreon said.
NMIFA will need as many referees as it could get, as the federation looks to open the 2019 NMIFA Youth Spring League next month, marking the return of soccer action in the CNMI after Super Typhoon Yutu hit the islands and canceled the remaining games in the 2018 fall season.