Coaches wish for NMI’s entry to FIFA

Posted on Jun 12 2020


In this 2018 file photo, CNMI U15 Boys National Team captain Taka Borja (7) keeps a close eye on a Japan player during their game in the East Asian Football Federation U15 Boys Tournament in Xianghe, China. (Contributed Photo)

Coaches Sugao Kambe, Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, and Michiteru Mita closed out last Saturday’s Episode 4 of Footcast with Norman with a wish list for CNMI soccer.

On top of it is Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s membership to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the highest governing body of the sport with over 200 members across six regional federations.

In this 2015 file photo, former CNMI national team coach Kiyoshi Sekiguchi delivers a message to attendees of a Northern Mariana Islands Football Association-organized event. (Contributed Photo)

“Becoming a FIFA member means more opportunities to play in high-level tournaments for the CNMI. It will give players more experience in international play and more opportunity to learn and improve their games,” said Kambe, who coached the CNMI men’s and women’s national teams in 2008.

The CNMI, through the NMIFA, has taken the necessary steps to gain FIFA membership. NMIFA sought and was granted full membership to the East Asian Football Federation. It has also gained associate membership status with the Asian Football Confederation, while full membership to AFC will move the CNMI closer to joining the FIFA family.

In this 2017 file photo, CNMI coach Michiteru Mita, fourth left, joins his counterpart in a press conference for the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand. (Contributed Photo)

“Getting FIFA membership is very important because this will give the CNMI more resources, which it can use to further develop its program. As what coach Kambe said, there will be many opportunities—financial, technical, administrative, and others—available for the CNMI when it gets FIFA membership,” said Sekiguchi, who took over the reins from Kambe and handled the Commonwealth’s national teams in 2010-2011 and 2014-2016.

Mita, the current CNMI coach and NMIFA technical director, on the other hand, mentioned one of the “privileges” that FIFA member-countries get—to play in World Cup qualifiers.

Volunteers hold the FIFA Fair Play flag during the opening ceremony for the 2019 Marianas Cup in Guam. (Contributed Photo)

“It’s every player’s dream to play in World Cup. For us, even in World Cup qualifiers, we wish to see that dream come true someday,” said Mita.

Sekiguchi, besides wishing the CNMI to get FIFA membership, also hopes to see the Commonwealth challenge Japan’s national team.

“I want to see that game—NMI vs Japan—and we will all watch together,” said Sekiguchi.

In this 2009 file photo, former CNMI coach Sugao Kambe, standing right, poses with the U13 national youth developmental team before their training session at the Garapan Elementary School Field. (Contributed Photo)

“That would be a game for a lifetime,” said Footcast with Norman host and NMIFA Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario said.

Meanwhile, Footcast with Norman will continue this Saturday with Episode 5 featuring the CNMI Women’s National Team’s first victory (against Macau, 7-0, in the 2015 EAFF East Asian Cup Preliminary Round 1 in Guam). Joining Del Rosario in the 8pm discussion are Carrie Schuler, Emily Maxberry, Meg Silberberger, Gabrielle Race, Mikky Vargas, Neeka Atalig, and Chevy Alipio, who all played for the winning team in 2014.

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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