Austria will play in NCAA


In this 2019 file photo, TanHoldings Football Club’s Thaiphi Austria takes a shot during their game against Matansa in the boys U18 division of the NMIFA Fall Youth League at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Opportunities continue to come for the Commonwealth’s players, as another member of the CNMI national team is set to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Thaiphi Austria, who played for the CNMI Men’s U19 National Team in last year’s Marianas Cup and also suited up for the Teen Ayuyus in several other off-island tournaments, has signed up with Trine University in Angola, Indiana. The Thunder is an NCAA Division III school and plays in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Thaiphi Austria, fourth left front row, poses with his fellow CNMI U19 National Team starters before playing against Cambodia in Group G of the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers last year in Phnom Penh. (Contributed Photo)

“It’s a blessing to have this opportunity to play college soccer. I’ve been looking forward to this since I started high school and I am very excited that I will be able to continue my education and play soccer at Trine University,” said Austria, who according to Northern Mariana Islands Football Association Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario is the 14th CNMI player that will compete in the collegiate level in the U.S.

At Trine University, Austria, who is a key player of TanHoldings Football Club, received an academic scholarship and financial aid, which he said will be very helpful, as he starts his new journey—both in soccer and his study. He is considering majoring in either physical therapy or civil engineering.

In this 2019 file photo, the CNMI’s Thaiphi Austria, third left, plays tough defense on Cambodia’s Ath Ontoch during the first half of their game in Group G of the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers held in Phnom Penh. (Asian Football Confederation)

“I am looking forward to having more experience playing soccer at a much higher level,” said the Saipan Southern High School graduate.

“I will continue working on my game and learn many new things on and off the field. That way when I return to the CNMI to compete, I can help the team. This will be a very big step in my life as I transition from living in a small island to the states, but I am more than ready for the upcoming challenges,” Austria added.

Thaiphi Austria, sixth left standing, joins his TanHoldings Football Club teammates, Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan, center back row, and their coaches for a group photo during a break in their summer training camp in Hong Kong in 2015. (Contributed Photo)

The Teen Ayuyus co-captain, who also played in the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Cambodia last year, will be joining his new team that was ranked in the Top 5 in the conference last season. Trine finished last year’s competition with a 6-10 record and made it to the MIAA Tournament for three straight seasons. The Thunder is coached by former pro David Jacobs, who played as goalkeeper in the U.S. and Mexico and was a Michigan Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year awardee (2016).

CNMI National Team player Thaiphi Austria graduated at Saipan Southern High School early this month and is heading to Indiana to study at Trine University. (Contributed Photo)

Meanwhile, Austria thanked NMIFA, his coaches and teammates, and all the people who influenced him to have passion for soccer and for providing him with opportunities to improve his skills and represent the CNMI in international competitions.

“Thank you to my friends, family, coaches, teammates, and NMIFA for helping me become the player I am today. I will forever be grateful for all the kindness and support you have given me. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support,” the 18-year-old student-athlete said.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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