Rintaro Miyawaki will play NCAA Division 1 soccer after committing to Merrimack College.
The former MP United Football Club midfielder chose Merrimack College, which plays in the Northeast Conference, after also getting offers from Iona College and College of Staten Island.
“I’m looking forward to attending Merrimack. I also got offers form Iona and CSI but I decided on Merrimack because it seemed like the right fit for me,” he said in a social media message to Saipan Tribune.
Named to the 2021 Lohud Elite 11 while suiting up for the Westchester Flames, Miyawaki said he’s still undecided what he’ll major in at Merrimack College.
“I don’t know yet what I’ll major in but I want to thank all the teammates I had and coaches I had for this accomplishment. I want to win stuff with the team. My message back to Saipan would be that keep working for their dreams.”
With Miyawaki committing to Merrimack College, MP United now counts nine alumni that either played or are now playing college soccer in the U.S. The others are Lucas Knecht, Bo Barry, Enrico del Rosario, Scott Kim, John Taisacan, Sunjoon Tenorio, Dai Podziewski, and Joshua Abragan
“I’m very excited for the challenge,” said Miyawaki when asked how much he’s looking forward to playing NCAA Division I soccer.
Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michitetu Mita gave kudos to Miyawaki for committing to Merrimack College.
“I would like to congratulate Rintaro and his family, MPU. This is great news for NMI soccer family he committed to NCAA Division I.”
Mita said NMIFA still has its sights including Miyawaki to the CNMI Men’s National Football Team.
“Since he left the islands we’ve continued showing me interest in playing NMI national team. Last year, he sent me his highlight videos. I was very impressed with his growth.”
Mita said Miyawaki can score not only with his right foot but also with his left foot from different angles. He also can create many scoring opportunities by crosses or through passes.
“He is a utility player and he can play different positions. That skill is a requirement for a modern top soccer player. He also has a mentality to overcome challenges. I know he made a tremendous effort to improve his weak foot.”
He added that the former MPU player continues to be a source of inspiration to young soccer players back home
“To join a Division 1 team, a player also has to be academically good and has to have high GPA. He is really a role model for our national youth team players. I’m really looking forward to seeing his further achievements not only in college but also in the NMI national team.”
MP United FC president Vickie Izuka said Miyawaki was already a high-energy athlete even before he joined the club.
“He was playing many sports including tennis, swimming, and running when he also started to play soccer. Over the years, he was unstoppable and could run a race in the morning, participate in a swim meet or play multiple games in a tennis tournament, and then on the same day, he could finish the day playing soccer and still be fast and furious on the pitch. In 2014 when he was 10, Rintaro traveled with MPU’s traveling U14 team to the Pinas Cup in the Philippines and was the smallest but a fearless striker on the team. His dream was to train and be on the NMI national team, but he was always just shy to be eligible for the youngest U14 national program.”
NMIFA vice president said their former ward eventually moved to the U.S. mainland and that’s where his athletic skills further progressed.
“Fast forward to today where he was able to spend his high school days playing in New York and showcased himself in the highly competitive high school soccer environment there. Rintaro has been accepted to Merrimack, a D1 college and our club is so very proud of him. He continues the trend of MPU players going on to college and many playing high-level college soccer. We believe Rintaro will continue to do great things and achieve all his childhood dreams. We hope he can also participate in the NMI national team competitions when they reconvene safely from the pandemic. We wish him all the best as he embarks on his new soccer journey,” said Izuka.
MPU vice president and technical director Norman Del Rosario said he’s no longer surprised that Miyawaki was able to latch on to a NCAA Division 1 school.
“Rintaro is the kind of player that a coach would wish for to have in his team because he is a hard worker and very coachable.”