CNMI players back to the grind

Posted on Jul 10 2020


The NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville host the training sessions of the Commonwealth’s female players three times a week. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Training with restrictions may be tough to the female members of CNMI National Team, but they will take it any time of the day just to get their high fitness level back.

Just like their male counterparts, the islands’ female strikers (from women’s team and U18 and U16 age groups), have resumed their actual training sessions last month after nearly three months of staying away from the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working out together, but in small groups, and are strictly observing social distancing rules and other safety guidelines set by the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association and the government, according to assistant coach Angie Ito.

“Everything we do surrounds social distancing and sanitizing before and after training. We have made guidelines and protocols for players and parents/guardians to follow. Before the resumption of training we had online meeting with the players of the do’s and don’ts at the pitch,” Ito said.

In this 2018 photo, CNMI Women’s National Team’s Krizel Tuazon, right, is slightly ahead of a Guam player and her teammate Sharmaine Francisco as they chase the ball during the Marianas Cup held at the NMI Soccer Training Center. (Contributed Photo)

Khristelle Itaas leads the women’s U18 group training every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons and admits that it’s quite a challenge to return to their usual routine after a long break and with limitations on their movements at the field.

“After months of not training, it’s been tough because our endurance wasn’t there. The new set up is very different because we have to always observe social distancing. Personally, the challenge I face in training is getting back my fitness. There are times during training where I’d be extremely tired and my mind would tell me to rest,” Itaas said.

“However, I have to remain focused and work on regaining my fitness back,” she added.

The portable benches at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville have limited seats to observe social distancing during the CNMI national team’s training. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Ito said that although their players are taking time to adjust to the new system of training, she has been seeing improvement from them in every session and she believes this is because of the presence of each other at the pitch.

“I believe the girls enjoy the sessions because they get to see their teammates, while coaches are able to supervise the players better, Also, there is better motivation for the girls when they see each other on the field. I’m sure they just really missed NMISTC itself,” said Ito, who used to work with the three teams online.

Krizel Tuazon, who trains with the women’s national team, said she likes how the training sessions resumed by phases.

Katrina Costales, right, undergoes the routine temperature check before proceeding to the pitch at the NMI Soccer Training Center. (Krizel Tuazon)

“Some of us girls weren’t fit in the first week, which was kind of expected because of no training on ground. We are now in Phase 2, which means no physical contact during training. And during this phase, we focus on getting back our fitness and getting back the ‘feeling’ of the ball,” Tuazon said.

The system works for her since she’s still recovering from injury.

“I just came back from a serious injury and I’m working my way up again. The team will be heading to Phase 3 soon and that’s good for all of us because we will be able to challenge each other, which also means we’ll be making ourselves better and getting back on track,” Tuazon said.

Tuazon and company are back on the grind to get ready for four competitions—Marianas Cup, East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship 2021 Round 1, and two Asian Football Confederation-organized events (U20 and U17 age groups). Dates and venues of these four tournaments have yet to be announced due to the uncertainties brought by COVID-19.

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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