NMA ushered in return to races

Posted on Aug 21 2020


In this 2018 file photo, elementary school students head out to the course during the Northern Marianas Athletics/Public School System All Schools Cross Country Championships at the Saipan County Club in Chalan Kiya. (Lindsay Nash)

The Northern Marianas Athletics attended the World Athletics’ virtual meeting that aimed at helping member federations manage their way back to organizing road races.

NMA president Ray Tebuteb and Public School System Athletic Program director Nick Gross represented the CNMI in last Wednesday’s online forum dubbed as “Getting Road Races Back” and how it can be achieved through coalition building, operational protocols, and compliance with national regulations.

“The seminar was definitely helpful. It guides us through the steps that we must take to gradually and more importantly, safely, resume our sports activities and in our case, the cross country events,” Tebuteb said.

NMA had its track season this year shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next up for the association would be cross country and the seminar is very timely, as NMA is working with government agencies and schools in trying to hold modified races off the track with great consideration to the safety and well-being of students, coaches, and others involved in the program.

“We plan to do something for our cross-country season, but it’s still a work in progress, as we have to make sure we will get the approval of our government and the schools for the safety of the community, especially our children,” the NMA head said.

Students sprint to the finish line during the second leg of the cross-country qualifying races at the Saipan County Club. (Contributed Photo)

“With World Athletics seminar, we were able to learn from other countries how they approached the situation with their respective sports activities,” Tebuteb added.

In the invites to its member federations, World Athletics noted how several countries, leagues, and national governing bodies have succeeded in creating operational protocols and practices that comply with health and safety regulations, resulting to the safe return of sports-related activities at this time of the pandemic.

Tebuteb set the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association as an example on how its detailed proposal to resume training of the national team conformed with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and was allowed to return to the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville and conduct restrictive activities.

“Other sports federations, such as cycling, triathlon, and athletics have their own guidelines, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to adhering to safety rules and looking after the welfare of all those involved with the program. Thus World Athletics seminar taught us how we can work with all the stakeholders, create our plans, and make them viable at this time of the pandemic,” Tebuteb said.

Meanwhile, NMA secretary general and Oceania Athletics Association president Robin Sapong said they will also share the guidelines discussed at the online forum to other local sports federations.

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

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