The Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association honored all its athletes of the month, athletes of the year, and coach of the year, while also inducting two new members to the CNMI Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, but also getting a lot of attention was the issue surrounding the Micronesian Games.
While addressing the crowd at the Saipan Grand Hotel, NMASA president Michael White recognized the efforts of athletes of the year David Palacios and Nina Mosley; student athletes of the year Darrel Roligat and Jacque Wonenberg; coach of the year Michael Stewart; and hall of famers Cecilia Lisua and Jose Sablan, as well as all athletes and participants of all sports.
“[Thursday night], we’re celebrating the glory of sports, not just in winning medals and races and games, but the glory in participating, in competing, in striving to do our best, in realizing that hard work and dedication not only leads to success in sports but also in life,” he said.
White then turned his attention to the hosting of the Micronesian Games.
“At the same time, it’s a little bit of a sad time for the CNMI,” he said. “For the first time in 15 years, we have the chance to host an international multi-sport event. The government promised its support. Regretfully, that promise wasn’t kept. A government that fails to recognize the importance of sport in our community is a government that fails in its obligations to our people. A society which neglects sports, neglects its children and threatens its own future.”
White then asked a question that caught the attention of all in attendance and answered it with a phrase and a suggestion that drew applause.
“As competitors, we learned not to accept defeat too easily. We’re going to try to turn this negative into a positive. Are the 2006 Micronesian Games dead? They are, but only if we admit they are. Only if we give up on it,” he said.
“Let’s show the government how we feel,” White added as he called for all in attendance to log onto the Saipan Tribune website and cast their votes on the weekly poll, which asks if individuals agree with the government’s decision to scrap the Micro Games.
White also called for all to take part in a rally that was held at the Governor’s Office yesterday afternoon. (See story on Page 1)
“We can show our support for the Micro Games,” he said. “If you want the Games on Saipan, let your opinions be known,” he said.
White stressed that there is still sufficient time to organize and put on the Games but that a key need will be the support and cooperation of the government.
“It was an unfortunate decision to cancel the Games, but there’s time to change it. There’s still time to stage the Games in 2006 right here in Saipan. Maybe we need to downsize the Games a little, but one thing we don’t need is government money. We only need their cooperation.
If we get that cooperation, we can put on a competition that we can all be proud of, that will help our economy, which will inspire our athletes. It will inspire all the children and all the people in the Commonwealth…that will make us all proud to say ‘welcome to the CNMI and to the 2006 Micronesian Games,” White said.
Meanwhile, White called for all sports federations and athletes to begin preparing for next year’s South Pacific Games, which will be held in Samoa.
“Let’s keep going. Keep practicing and lets keep working hard,” he said. “Start now. Raise money for your trip because we’re not going to be able to count on government support with this expensive trip next year to Samoa.”
The Micronesian Games was supposed to be held in Yap, however, destructive typhoons damaged sports facilities, which resulted in the Micronesian Games Organizing Council putting the Games up for grabs. The CNMI jumped at the opportunity last summer and was awarded the Games in September.
About 1,500-1,700 athletes and officials are expected to take part in the Games, which if held on Saipan, is scheduled from June 23 to July 7.
The government had earlier cited poor planning and the struggling economy as reasons for the pullout decision, which was announced last Friday.