Vivid Blue visited Saipan last week for a series of friendly games and cultural exchanges with sister club MP United and Garapan Elementary School.
The Sizuoka, Japan-based club delegation was led by its president and founder Sachiko Tahara, who brought with her 10 players to compete against MP United’s U12 teams. Vivid Blue’s roster were composed of Hizuki Katayama, Junki Tsumeda, Hokuto Tsujita, Kouta Muramatsu, Naoki Mizuno, Riku Tanaka, Hayato Tsujita, Yohei Shoji, Rikuya Kageyama, and Kakeru Tomotaka.
The visiting squad defeated MP United U12 B, 1-0, in the first friendly match last week at the GES Field and settled for a 3-3 draw against MP United U12A in the final game of the day. MP United U12A downed MP United U12B in the second match, 2-0.
“The games were a great opportunity for MPU U12 team members to play with their friends from Vivid Blue and everybody had a great time,” team manager May Ling Colombo said.
The friendly matches made up for the Pacific Ocean Cup, which MP United was supposed to host after Vivid Blue held the previous one last year.
“We were not able to host the Pacific Ocean Cup on Saipan this trip since the delegation was not able to travel over the weekend. Some of our players had school and some of our volunteers worked during the weekdays. We are hoping to make the trip to Japan again to play in Vivid Blue’s hosting of the next Pacific Ocean Cup,” MP United president Vickie Izuka said.
MP United and Vivid Blue have been visiting each other since 2009, one year after former MP United president Sue Knecht met Tahara and worked for the first MPU team (boys U14) that traveled and competed in Japan.
“Many of these boys have gone on to become college football players or are helping MPU in coaching and officiating, too. Since that time, Vivid Blue has been working hard to visit Saipan annually and MPU has also organized trips to Japan every 1 to 2 years,” Izuka added.
Tahara, on the other hand, said the Saipan trip gives Vivid Blue players added motivation to work hard on their games.
“They are motivated to work extra hard during games and practices so they could join team and go to Saipan,” Tahara said.
Besides competing on Saipan, Vivid Blue players also love to visit historical sites on the island and meet fellow students.
“Saipan has a rich history about World War II and Japan. The kids also love to talk with MP United players and other Saipan students,” Tahara said.
Tahara’s wards attended GES for two half days and had cultural exchange with the Mallards.
“MP United FC is so fortunate to have such a wonderful friendship with Vivid Blue Soccer School and Ms. Tahara. This year, the delegation had a few younger players, ages 7-8, in addition to the usual 10-13 year old age group. Out of a delegation of 10, more than 50 percent were players who visited Saipan for the first time and the rest were returning players who’ve come to know and love Saipan and who’ve established bonds with MPU players as we’ve also taken teams to visit them in Japan in the past,” Izuka said.
“Overall, this trip helps give our MPU players and families the opportunity to be good ambassadors/hosts to an international team. They learn about and respect others cultures and the trip gives more football and friendship opportunities to our players,” added Izuka, who thanked MP United U15 manager Lydia Tan for organizing Vivid Blue’s trip. “Having a super hostess makes all the difference to really create a fun and smooth trip for the Vivid Blue delegation. We also thank our members who hosted players and organized gatherings, and Garapan Elementary School for the cultural exchange.”