NMI players tout support group

Posted on Jun 24 2020


In this 2018 file photo, the community rallies behind the CNMI National Team during a game against Guam in the Marianas Cup at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Saipan Tribune)

Two-time CNMI Women’s National Team member Gabi Race found it silly seeing his dad, Jeff, at the sidelines of the Oleai Sports Complex Field, holding a video camera and filming her games.

Those awkward moments for Gabi turned out to be a big help later when she attempted to join a college soccer team, as her dad’s video footage proved she has what it takes to play in the collegiate ranks.

“During those times, games were not filmed yet, so I am really lucky that my dad took video of my matches,” said Gabi, who was among the guests in last Saturday’s Episode 6 of Footcast with Norman and discussed the college recruitment process she and five others went through.

Sunjoon Tenorio, right, seen here playing for Suffolk University, will continue his college soccer journey as he suits up for Warner Pacific University next season. (Contributed Photo)

Footcast with Norman host Norman Del Rosario added that video footages are important since scouts would not often come here to see CNMI players and will instead rely on game clips. Nowadays, Del Rosario added, the islands’ players are fortunate that technology is available making access to game footages easier and giving scouts/coaches more opportunities to shop for talents.

Going back to Gabi’s dad “filming days,” this kind of support from the players’ parents made the intricate and difficult recruitment process for CNMI bets bearable.

“Parents’ support is not always about financial help. Just being there and supporting what your kids would like to do goes a long away. I am fortunate that I have my mom who made it possible for me to play college soccer,” said Guine Borja.

Guine Borja, right, joins her supportive mother, Patricia Coleman, for a photo after the CNMI Women’s National Team defeated Guam in the 2018 Marianas Cup at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Contributed Photo)

Enrico Del Rosario, Sunjoon Tenorio, Thaiphi Austria, and Dai Podziewski were as lucky as Borja, as their parents also had their backs as they continue their soccer and educational journey in college. These players’ parents paid for memberships to recruitment websites, some had their children visit prospective schools, and all were a voice of reason when things started to get tough.

For players who have challenges getting their parents support, Borja said help is always available from the community.

“You have the entire CNMI soccer community backing you up. You can ask help from the FA (Northern Mariana Islands Football Association) your coaches, clubs, and even fellow players, who have gone through the same recruitment process,” said Borja, who will have her rookie season with Navarro College

In this 2014 file photo, CNMI Women’s National Team players, coaches, and supporters celebrate the men’s national squad’s historic triumph over Macau in the 2015 EAFF East Asian Cup at the Guam Football Association Training Center. (Contributed Photo)

Motivation and confidence
One of the challenges in going through college recruitment is getting rejections, not once, but many times. But don’t be discouraged.

“Keep on trying and you’ll find the right school for you,” Podziewski, who will be on his second season with Suffolk University.

Del Rosario added that one should use the rejection as motivation to get better and prove that you belong to play in the collegiate ranks.

Having and keeping your confidence up when you go out there and battle tough players, physically and mentally, is also crucial.

In this 2012 file photo, Gabi Race, right, battles a Guam player for possession. (Contributed Photo)

“Have the mentality that you can keep up with them. Have the confidence that you know how to play and help the team,” Tenorio said.

“I remember when we’re young, Guine and I played futsal and every time we lost, she would cry. So I told her, that’s not the way to deal with a loss, we have to be stronger and better. That goes the same when you are trying to play in the collegiate league or any level, always have confidence,” he added.

Podziewski also said that even though CNMI players come from a small island that should not make them feel inferior from others.

“We are trained by professional and great coaches so we know how to play in a competitive level,” Podziewski said.

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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