Asian Football Confederation sent a team to Saipan to assess the damage sustained by the NMI Soccer Training Center and assured Northern Mariana Islands Football Association that help is coming to repair the facility.
AFC development consultant Domeka Garamendi and AFC consultant for infrastructure Baltazar Avelino were here last weekend and had a site inspection at the NMITC, which suffered massive damage when the island was hit by Super Typhoon Yutu last month.
“The damage was extensive. There’s a lot of things that need to be fixed—the floodlight, the fence, the secondary pitch, bleachers, and other important parts of the training center,” said Garamendi, who visited the island for the second time, as he was here in September last year to assist NMIFA in its strategic plan for 2018 to 2023.
“We knew that the facility just opened this year and it’s a great one, so it’s really sad that it suffered extensive damage because of Yutu,” Garamendi said.
Once NMIFA did its own assessment on the damage to the facility, the association wrote a letter to AFC to seek assistance and the request got an immediate response from the group.
“It (repair of the facility) is on the priority list of AFC. AFC knows the urgency of this project, so after our superiors received the request letter, they made an arrangement for us to fly here,” said Avelino.
“We can’t give a timeline. But, what we can assure you is that AFC will definitely help as soon as possible. We will be leaving Saipan on Saturday and when I go back to KL (Kuala Lumpur) and him (Avelino) in Manila, we will work on our reports by either Tuesday or Wednesday and we will take it from there. We will be back sooner than later,” Garamendi said.
Games at the main and secondary pitches at the NMITC were suspended when Yutu slammed Saipan and Tinian, and AFC, according to Avelino, understand the importance of getting the players back into the pitch.
“Having the pitch back will definitely uplift the spirits of the players, as we know their homes and families were also affected by the super typhoon. Rebuilding the damage structure is something that the players look forward to. We will do this at the soonest possible time,” the former Philippine futsal national team player and coach said.
Meanwhile, NMIFA president Jerry Tan expressed the association’s appreciation for AFC’s prompt action.
“NMIFA is very grateful to AFC as the moment they heard what happened to Saipan and our facility, they immediately discussed how they can help us. Then they sent a team here to carefully examine the extent of the damage. We will closely work with AFC in the coming days, weeks, and months to do the necessary repair,” Tan said.
“Our players, especially the youth, are eagerly waiting to get back to the game and resume our competition and we really appreciate AFC for helping us bring the kids back into the pitch. AFC’s assistance will definitely go a long way and help us recover,” the NMIFA head said.