Grassroots soccer program gets boost


Participants in the Grassroots Kids Leader Course show their certificate and pose with course instructors from Northern Mariana Islands Footballl Association last Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Contributed Photo)

The Northern Mariana Islands Football Association continues to strengthen its grassroots program, as it had 12 coaches completing the Grassroots Kids Leader Course last Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

According to NMIFA coach Jersh Angeles, who was the course instructor and was assisted by Angie Ito, there were 11 participants from clubs and one from Marianas High School. The course started with an online session from 10am to 12:30pm for the theoretical part, while the practical session took place from 3:30pm to 5:30pm at the NMISTC where coaches also received their certificates.

“Participants sure had fun. They did all the fun drills and game—fun warm-up, fun dribbling drills, and at the end, the small sided game called ‘Funnino.’ We had discussion after every drills—feedback, comments, and suggestions from the participants were welcomed and we (coaches) provided them the key factors for each drill and the importance of it,” Angeles said.

Players in the U6 age group line up as they wait for the start of the drills during the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s grassroots event last year at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Contributed Photo)

NMIFA technical director and CNMI head coach Michiteru Mita, who observed the practical session of the course and joined the awarding of certificates to participants, said the course is aimed at increasing the number of coaches at the grassroots level.

“We tailored this course to fit more the CNMI grassroots soccer environment. Instructors created fun and interactive environment among participants during the course. It is important for grassroots coaches to have fun with soccer first so they can show kids how fun the sport is. This is an entry level coaching course and provides basic coaching knowledge to parent-coaches and young coaches involved in grassroots soccer. We have an approved AFC (Asian Football Confederation) grassroots charter bronze, so NMIFA will keep on making a strong effort to maintain quality and improve further our grassroots soccer. We need more people who can support and understand our program for our kids,” Mita said.

The technical director added that they plan to require coaches in the youth league to have a GKL certificate and to make the course accessible to more people, they will visit clubs if requests are made.

Players work with the ball during a series of drills. (Contributed Photo)

“I believe more coaches can attend if we hold this course within the club,” Mita said.

Jessica Ortizo, one of the TanHoldings Football Club coaches who completed the course, was thankful for the opportunity to gain more knowledge about grassroots coaching as she looks forward to working with kids when it’s safe to return to the pitch.

“Coaching younger kids is a lot more challenging but at the same time fun. The grassroots course yesterday (last Saturday) made me more aware of the importance of not only being a coach, but also being a good example or role model to young players,” said Ortizo, who has three children enrolled in the program.

Mita acknowledged Ortizo and the 11 other participants for their interest in the course, especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“NMIFA appreciates the participants for showing passion for soccer even at this time of the pandemic. We thanked them for following the safety guidelines. I believe they got a lot of ideas about coaching grassroots soccer and they will apply them in their club or school once we resume training,” 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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