Games at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville and other soccer-related events were suspended in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu that hammered Saipan and Tinian in late October last year. Weeks after the typhoon hit the islands, NMIFA joined the rest of the community in doing relief and recovery activities, hoping to get back on their feet.
“Our FA (football association) staff members are working hard to repair the training center as soon as possible so we can resume soccer activities. Hopefully we can resume the youth/men’s/ women’s leagues in February 2019 and go back to the normal soccer season,” NMIFA technical director Michiteru Mita said.
The association canceled the remaining matches of the 2018 NMIFA Fall Youth League, M-League, and Dove Women’s League and will start with the spring season of all division games next month, as repairs at the venues, particularly at the NMITC, are being fast-tracked.
Besides kicking off the spring season of the different leagues, Mita said they will still work out with the various schools to boost NMIFA’s grassroots program.
“We also plan to start P.E. support program, which is one of our important grassroots programs, and we will be coordinating with the schools,” the NMIFA technical director said.
In the P.E. support program, NMIFA staff members/coaches visit schools and identify talents. Once students are selected, they are trained regularly, teaching them the basic skills and techniques, while tournaments are designed for them to determine their progress. Students are later encouraged to hook up with local clubs to have them stay with the program.
As for their national team program, Mita said they will be busy with several off-island tournaments and training camps.
“We will keep both the men and women national teams active in 2019. We plan to play in the EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) U15 girls tournament, the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) U19 and U15 boys, and the Marianas Cup in Guam. We are also looking at off-islands training camps in preparation for these tournaments,” Mita said.
“We will keep going forward for the further development of CNMI soccer in 2019 and beyond,” he added.
Japanese club gives donation
Meanwhile, the Bears—a football club from Japan and is handled by former NMIFA technical director Kiyoshi Sekiguchi—donated $450 to NMIFA to help in the association’s recovery efforts from Super Typhoon Yutu. The donations came from Bears players, members, and staff.
“It’s a very nice gesture from them and we truly appreciate their donation. Bears guys, coach Seki (Kiyoshi) and Kei Kitamura, have a strong relationship with the CNMI soccer community and we hope to continue the ties. We thanked Bears players and staff for their generosity,” said Mita, who personally received the donation from Kiyoshi when the former visited Japan last month.