Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s Junior National Academy is back in action after holding an online training session last Monday.
The academy is one of NMIFA’s grassroots programs and it aims at preparing young players for higher-level competitions and national team training system.
“They are the future of our national team,” JNA head coach Jersh Angeles said.
The program’s mentor said that their first class since soccer-related activities were suspended mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic ran from 4pm to 5pm. The 19-player pool that is made up of players in the 10 to 12 age group performed drills focusing on dynamic stretching, ball feeling, core exercises, and cooling down.
Angeles added that their first session had a good turnout. However, it was evident that the JNA players were a bit rusty because it’s been more than two months since they last trained.
“I observed last Monday that most them didn’t touch the ball and didn’t have any exercise since we stopped the training. We want to resume the JNA training even through online so that our players can gradually get back their fitness and start touching the ball again,” Angeles said.
Before the suspension of JNA’s training sessions, the pool used to hold classes every Friday at the TSL Sports Complex. Players also utilized the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville so they can switch to drills that need bigger space and have 8v8 scrimmage.
Casey Chambers and Matty Angeles are among the players in the pool and welcomed the resumption of their training sessions.
“They are helping us get ready for the next soccer season. I joined the academy because I want to become a better player,” Chambers said.
Matty echoed Chamber’s thoughts, saying that the academy gives them an opportunity to play better and improve their skills.
“We learn a lot of techniques and at this time when we can’t go out to play and train, we can use these online sessions to stay in shape and exercise,” the young player added.
Meanwhile, when sports federations are cleared to return to their regular activities, Jersh Angeles wishes JNA players will be able to play in a series of games in Guam.
“We planned before to bring the JNA players to Guam to have friendly matches with GFA’s academy and local clubs. Hopefully we could do this when everything is back to normal,” Angeles said.
Meanwhile, NMIFA technical director Michiteru, who is also helping JNA in its online workout, and Angeles are still holding virtual training sessions for the men’s national squad and the boys U15 and U17 national team pools to keep them in shape and ready for off-island tournaments in the future. The men’s squad is scheduled to participate in the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship 2021 Round 1, which is set between July and September, but has been suspended and new dates have yet to be announced.