Blue Ayuyus moving forward


The CNMI’s Anthony Fruit, second left, battles a Guam player for possession during their game in last year’s Marianas Cup at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo. (Guam Football Association)

Players of the CNMI Men’s National Team have been through many lessons and challenges on and off the pitch that moving forward with their preparation for an international tournament amid this coronavirus pandemic has become natural for them.

More than 20 players have been practicing drills and working out on their own at home since their regular training sessions at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville were suspended last month due to the COVID-19 crisis. Off-island players have also been participating in the online training workout programs devised by Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s pool of coaches with inputs from BBJ Athletics’ Jerry Diaz.

“It’s a very hard time for everyone right now. Players and their families, and the CNMI’s safety is our first priority,” said NMIFA technical director and CNMI Men’s National Team head coach Michiteru Mita when asked about coming up with a system to continue their training sessions while following the government’s guidelines on social distancing and other safety precautions against the pandemic.

“Even at this difficult time, our players are not stopping with their workout while ensuring that they are following the government’s orders,” he added.

Coaches send workout drills for players to follow, while members also shoot videos of their personal workout to exchange ideas with those involved in the program.

“They post in our group chat their workout and diet to inspire and motivate each other. I’m also motivated by them,” Mita said.

The Blue Ayuyus are moving forward with their training regimen to get ready for the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship 2021 Round 1, which is supposed to be held in July and September, but has been pushed back to a later date. Changes in the schedule has been made after the Asian Football Confederation and Fédération Internationale de Football Association announced last week that matches and tournaments during the March and June 2020 window will be postponed to October and November this year. The new schedule of the EAFF event will be released once FIFA and AFC have decided on the revised dates for the affected matches.

Mita upon learning about the postponement took it as another challenge that the Blue Ayuyus can hurdle.

“It’s good that EAFF will still try to hold the tournament and just move the date because the worst case scenario is cancellation. We are working hard for this tournament because joining an international competition and representing the CNMI is always the biggest motivation for our players,” the Blue Ayuyus coach said.

“Our players understand this and they also understand how to get through these difficult times because they have learned from their tough games. They have also learned from the past typhoon (Yutu). Players overcome these trials and always come back stronger. That’s way I believe whatever challenges they face they will just keep moving forward,” Mita 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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