The Asian Football Confederation donated 500 soccer balls to local clubs under the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association. The equipment were turned over to nine clubs last Friday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
NMIFA general secretary Ross Zapanta said they prepared soccer balls for all nine active clubs—MP United, Kanoa FC, Paire FC, Shirley’s FC, Tan Holdings FC, Matansa FC, Southern United FC, Fiesta Soccer Club, and Tinian Premier FC.
Jerry Tan, NMIFA president, thanked the Asian Football Confederation for the donation of soccer balls and said it will go a long way in further developing the sport in the islands.
“We received this annual grant for soccer balls so we decided to share a part of these soccer balls we got from AFC to all the clubs. They really need the soccer balls for their club training. Some of the soccer balls will also be shared with the Public School System for the school leagues. A soccer ball is an important tool for training,” he said.
Tan added that the donation of soccer balls is just AFC and NMIFA’s way of saying a “big thank you” to local clubs for propagating the sport of soccer in the CNMI.
“We appreciate the clubs for what they’ve been doing in developing and recruiting players. This is just a small way of expressing our appreciation to the clubs.”
Zapanta said NMIFA receives the soccer balls from AFC and then redistributes them to local clubs that need them the most.
“What Jerry wants to do now is to help the clubs by supporting them by providing the soccer balls and some other equipment. Right now we’ve been receiving like 500 soccer balls a year from AFC so we’re reallocating them to the clubs and the national teams,” he said.
He said local soccer teams’ needs vary from one another with the CNMI national teams always having the biggest needs.
“It depends because sometimes the national teams use a lot of soccer balls. One national team would require about 20-40 soccer balls. We have four teams—men, women, boys, and girls…and after three months they have to change those soccer balls,” he said.
Zapanta said NMIFA gave 25 soccer balls per club last Fall, but this year clubs that only have three teams will only get 10 soccer balls, while those that have six teams will get 20 soccer balls each.
Kanoa FC president Merlie Tolentino said the donation of soccer balls are very much appreciated by their club.
“We are very grateful to AFC and NMIFA for providing soccer balls to Kanoa FC. Thanks to this donation our players will have quality soccer balls for their training. [This is a] huge support for clubs for the development of the sport and improvement of our players’ skills.”
MP United technical director Norman Del Rosario echoed Tolentino’s appreciation to AFC and NMIFA.
“In behalf of MP United FC we deeply appreciated the ball donation. The more soccer balls around the more feet playing with it. It will definitely help the clubs in [the] development of [their] players.”
Tan Holding FC president Glicerio Arago said their club couldn’t have enough soccer balls and that he’s very appreciative of the donation from AFC and NMIFA.
“This donation of soccer balls really help in the development of the sport of soccer here on Saipan. We are happy and appreciative of this donation from AFC and NMIFA considering we—like all football clubs on island—are a non-profit organization,” he said.
AFC is the governing body of association football in Asia and Australia. It has 47 member countries, mostly located on the Asian and Australian continent, including the U.S. territories of the CNMI and Guam in the western Pacific.