Reconstruction of the mini/secondary pitch at NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville has been completed after going through several challenges, according to the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association.
The facility replaced the one that was totally damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. NMIFA received funding from the Asian Football Confederation to rebuild the mini pitch that sits on the west side of the NMITC’s main pitch. Reconstruction started last Nov. 26, 2020 and was completed last Dec. 31.
“AFC totally funded the reconstruction of the mini pitch. The mini pitch contract was for $299,584. This was part of the $600,665 that NMIFA receive from AFC to rebuild the damage caused by Typhoon Yutu at the NMI Soccer Training Center. Funding was sourced from two AFC Committees—the $374,538 was from the AFC President’s Infrastructure Initiative of the Development Committee and $226,127 was from the Dream Asia Foundation of the Social Responsibility Committee,” NMIFA general secretary Ross Zapanta said.
NMIFA sought help in rebuilding the facility that bore the brunt of the Category 5 typhoon and less than a month after Yutu flattened the island, AFC responded and sent its officials to Saipan to assess the damage sustained by the NMITC.
“NMIFA would like to thank the leadership of AFC for the financial support. I would also like to personally thank Domeka Garamendi, head of MA Services, and Sonam Jigmi, Development Officer, both of the AFC Development Division for their guidance and assistance in securing the grant for the rehabilitation projects,” Zapanta said.
After Garamendi’s visit to Saipan in November 2018, AFC issued a bid or tender for the project mid 2019 and the winning contractor Velocity Sports Equipment SDN BHD of Malaysia sent a representative to Saipan in February last year to assess the facility. Reconstruction was supposed to start two months after the assessment or from April to June, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shipment of construction materials was also delayed, while representatives of the contractor tasked to oversee the project failed to travel to Saipan due to the pandemic. These challenges led to hiring of a subcontractor—the USA Fanter Corp.—to get the job done in time for the AFC deadline on Dec. 31.
“There were a few days when work was suspended because of heavy rains. Fortunately, USA Fanter had sufficient manpower and equipment to actually complete the work in only about a month. But that included working on Saturdays, Sundays, and even holidays,” the NMIFA official said.
Though the reconstruction work was done in just a short period of time, NMIFA assured that the “new” mini pitch is better than the first one and has a couple of new features.
Besides rebuilding the sub-base for the artificial turf and installing an artificial turf, the mini pitch now has a 6-meter ball stop around the facility.
Zapanta said the old mini pitch only had ball stop fence behind goal areas and only the west and north sides of the pitch have a 4-foot cyclone wire fence. The all-around ball stop fence will keep balls inside the turf covered area of the pitch.
“Another new feature are the drainage pipes that were installed within the layers of the sub-base. The purpose is for rain water to drain faster beneath the surface of the turf,” he added.
Zapanta reiterated that reconstruction of the mini pitch and other improvement works at the NMISTC would not be made possible without the continued support of AFC, under the leadership of its president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
It is through the help of AFC, the East Asian Football Confederation, and other partners of the NMIFA that the association manages to continue to provide programs and services to the CNMI football community.
The completion of the reconstruction work at the NMISTC mini pitch came less than a month after the NMIFA gained full membership status from AFC.