‘For the love of the game’


In this 2019 file photo, the CNMI Boys U19 National Team players sing the Commonwealth anthem during the ceremony for their game against Brunei in Group G of the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Contributed Photo)

CNMI National Team coaches, past and present, don’t consider as sacrifices the things they did or are doing for their squad.

“It’s for the love of the game,” said Sugao Kambe, who coached the CNMI men’s and women’s national teams in 2009.

Kambe, Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, who called the shots for the Commonwealth squad in 2010-2011 and 2014-2016, and current coach and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita joined NMIFA Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario on Episode 4 of Footcast with Norman last Saturday and talked about their time with the national team and their coaching career.

In this 2019 file photo, CNMI head coach Michiteru Mita shouts instructions to the CNMI Boys U18 National Team during their game against Beijing Elite Core Football Club in the Northern Marianas Invitational Football Tournament at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Saipan Tribune)

“I don’t want to call them sacrifices because I love to help players get success. I do these things because I want to teach them how to become better players,” added Kambe, who is now based in Thailand coaching a professional club.

Sekiguchi and Mita echoed Kambe’s thoughts, saying that if you have love and passion for soccer, or for anything, you will be very much willing to do your part to contribute to its success.

“We love soccer, that’s why we are here,” Sekiguchi said.

Coach Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, standing right, is all smiles as he joins the CNMI Boys U15 National Team players and officials for a group photo after their historic 2-1 win over Macau in the 2011 East Asian Football Federation U15 Youth Tournament in Chinese-Taipei. (Contributed Photo)

Mita added that it’s not only coaches or players who are showing love for the game, but also their supporters.

“The volunteer coaches, managers, parents, and even the people watching the game. Without them, without their passion for the game, we won’t see development in football in the CNMI. And of course, our NMIFA officials under the leadership of our president, Jerry Tan. These important people make our job us coaches easier because of the support we are getting from them,” Mita said.

The NMIFA technical director also said that the initiative ’s main proponents and supporters make the CNMI’s soccer grassroots program work despite it being relatively new and smaller compared to other established countries.

Former CNMI coach Sugao Kambe now calls the shots for a club in Thailand. (Contributed Photo)

“We maybe small, but our system works because of our volunteers. Everyone works together,” Mita said.

Meanwhile, Mita and company wish to see and develop more coaches in the CNMI for the continued improvement of the sport on the islands. They also shared some “tools of the trade” to aspiring coaches.

“Have the mindset of always players first. Making players better will make you a better coach,” Mita said.

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director and CNMI coach Michiteru Mita explains a formation to his players during a training camp in Japan in 2016. (Contributed Photo)

Kambe reminded coaches, especially those who are just starting to work on their team, not to worry much about the results of the game. He said a coach must first focus on what he needs to teach his players and the things they need to do during training and games, as results will come later.

Sekiguchi, on the other hand, said coaches must remain positive no matter what situation the team is at. Having a coach who always looks at the bright side of things will help motivate players to do better and encourage them to stay in the program.

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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