The Northern Mariana Islands Football (Soccer) Association is continuing to follow up on its invitation for the upcoming EAFF U-14 Youth Football Festival in Beijing, China by holding training sessions and tryouts, and while the local club is searching to man a squad of 18-20 boys under 14 years old to face some of the best youth soccer player from the region, they have a new ally on the field.
The young kickers of the CNMI have already taken advantage of their new on-field guide at the American Memorial Park by joining Guam Football Association coach Tsukitate Norio over the weekend.
An enthusiastic bunch of youngsters paid little attention to the rain on Saturday as they ran circles, dribbled, and took heed of coach Tsuki’s words of wisdom on the grass.
The coach said that he planned on meeting with the NMIFA officials to formulate a plan for the near future while instilling the youth with some skills and assessing their abilities before they leave for China next month
First-year player Calvin Borja was among the weekend warriors who suited up for practice and the PTI Earthquakes “veteran” said that he and wants to make the team as a midfielder or a forward when the CNMI goes to China.
“I just really like soccer and want to play,” he said.
Twelve-year-old Kyle Perez also expressed his love of the game and said that he wants to be part of the team. The soon-to-be Hopwood Junior High School eighth grader also played for the Earthquakes in his first year of ball and plans on returning for his second season.
The pride of Whispering Palms, Crosby Schultz, was also among the kids vying for a spot on the team and said that there are a couple of reasons why he showed up to the field.
“I’d really love to go to Beijing and even more than that get my skills up so I can be better in my age category,” he said
Brothers Ali and Omar Hossain didn’t get to play with NMIFA last season but said that they have had some time to play at William S. Reyes Elementary School
“I like playing soccer and I wanted to play so I came out for the tryouts,” said 12-year-old Ali.
Daniel Macario of Mount Carmel School played for PTI last season and said that he came down to make the team because of the “kicking, running, and how much fun it is” and also because he made a lot of new friends when he suited up for NMIFA last season and that plans to return.
Lucas Knecht said that it was easy for him to decide to make the trip to AMP because he was excited to meet the coach and that he has the chance to play his favorite sport.
“I guess I just want to play soccer. It’s the best sport and I like the exercise,” he said.
His brother R.J. is 10 years old and a fifth grader at Whispering Palms and had a different take on why he wanted to make the team.
“Soccer is fun and I want to tryout for the team to go to Beijing because I love soccer and I want to advance my skills,” he said.
After learning of NMIFA’s invitation to the tournament in China, the GFA reached out to the local organization by offering assistance both on and off the field. Their experience with over 100 youth teams, 14 men’s teams, and a dozen women’s teams last season will come in handy and they can help provide the logistical support after sending 16 teams to compete internationally in destinations such as India, China, Singapore, and the Philippines.
The young kickers still have a week and a half to improve their skills with the coach and the two-a-day practice schedule continues at the AMP gets underway this morning from 8:30am to 10:30 am and again in the afternoon from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
Women’s soccer also gets a boost from coach Tsuki when he continues to host another weekend session for them at the AMP on Saturday, June 10, from 2pm to 4pm and again on Sunday, June 11, from 2pm to 4pm as well.
In order to land a spot on the CNMI’s first youth soccer team to compete in China, eligible players must first become a NMIFA member, have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1992, posses a valid U.S. passport with an expiration date after Jan. 19, 2007, and be willing to travel to China from July 19 through July 26.
For more information about joining the team as a player, coach, or manager, contact Sue Knecht via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.