Football Association of Maldives president Bassam Adeel Jaleel expressed his admiration to the development of the sport in the CNMI, particularly its youth and women’s programs.
Jaleel arrived on island last Wednesday to meet with Northern Mariana Islands Football Association officials and assist the group, as its seeks ordinary membership from the Asian Football Confederation. Also here to make sure NMIFA meets the requirements for its application for membership is AFC International Relations Officer Purushottam Kattel.
“It’s pretty amazing to see the development of football in such a small island like the NMI. I very much admire its program for the youth and women players,” said Jaleel, who also attended the send-off ceremony last Wednesday at Kanoa Resort for the CNMI Boys U16 National Team that will be playing in the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Jakarta this month.
“I hope NMIFA will continue to focus its resources in the development of youth teams because that’s were the national squads will come from and represent the NMI in AFC tournaments,” the FAM head said.
The U16 crew is the fourth group that will compete off-island for the Commonwealth this year. Last month, the island’ girls U15 team played in the 2019 East Asian Football Federation U15 Girls Festival in South Korea, while in July, the national girls U19 and men’s U19/U23 squads challenged Guam in the 2019 Marianas Cup. The men’s U19 will also see action in the AFC U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Cambodia in November.
Locally, NMIFA will have the competitive (girls U16, boys U15, boys U18, and co-ed U13) and non-competitive games in the fall league season, which will start next weekend.
“There are consistent football activities in the NMI and that’s something special for the development of the sport here,” Jaleel.
The visitor also lauded the NMI Soccer Training Center that was built just last year.
“It was so impressive to see the ground. A great facility is very important to the development of the program,” the FAM president, adding that the CNMI and Maldives share similarities, as far as the challenges they face in growing the sport.
“Maldives like the NMI is a small island with a small population. The land in Maldives is scarce that we don’t have a lot of football pitches. However, we persevere and continue to play the sport we love, just like what the NMI is doing despite its limitations,” Jaleel said.