New pitch to boost sports tourism

A Kanoa Football Club player kicks the ball during a shooting drill conducted before the opening of the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville early this month. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The new NMI Soccer Training Center is expected to attract off-island teams thus boosting sports tourism in the Commonwealth.

“This facility will definitely do wonders for our sports tourism portfolio. We are very impressed with how the facility turned out and it will help us in promoting the Marianas as sports haven for teams and athletes,” said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, who was among the government officials that inaugurated the facility located in Koblerville early this month.

“I once visited the facility while construction was undergoing. Now, I was awe with the finish product. This is such a great facility. It’s worth the investment,” Concepcion added.

MVA allocated funds to the training center and the Oleai Sports Complex as part of its destination-enhancement program.

“Through this facility and the much-improved Oleai track, we will be able to host off-island teams and their officials and family members,” Concepcion said.

Last month, hundreds of athletes from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Nauru competed at the Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility during the Oceania Micronesian Regional Championships 2018.

As for the training center, Guam would be one of the early visitors of the newly built facility that has a main artificial turf, a mini pitch, offices, rest rooms, bleacher, and ample parking space.

“You’ll see more teams coming down here often to play,” said Guam Football Association president Tino San Gil, who was among the off-island guests during the opening of the facility.

“This facility was forthcoming. When Jerry (Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan) started getting involved with the sport in the CNMI, I knew it would not take long for him to build a great facility. He envisioned this and made it happen,” San Gil added.

“We will make revisions with the Marianas Cup and hopefully before the year ends, we can play some games here,” the GFA head added.

Besides Guam, other member-countries of the East Asian Football Federation and Asian Football Confederation could also set foot here. Both EAFF and AFC hold regular tournaments, including qualifiers, which had members vying for hosting rights. Teams preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are also possible markets for the training facility.

NMIFA general secretary Ross Zapanta, during his speech at the opening ceremony, said the opening of the facility is just the start of more work to be done at the training center and he asks for the community’s support and commitment to take care of it.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for 16 years. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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