The Northern Marianas Sports Association took one big step toward working on a systematic and collective vision for CNMI sports.
The group held a strategic planning workshop early this month, formulating its short- and long-term goals and objectives and outlining programs, initiatives, and strategies to achieve them. The NMSA board members and officials headed by its president Jerry Tan attended the workshop that took place at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom last Sept. 11 and 12. FISU Oceania secretary general Donna Spethman conducted the workshop, which was made possible through a grant that NMSA availed of in partnership with the Northern Marianas College and the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire through NMSA International Sports Committee member Laurie Peterka.
“The grant included support for increasing the capacity of NMSA to be able to deliver effective governance and programs to student-athletes and local sport organizations,” said NMSA executive director Carline Sablan, who was also present at the two-day event.
In the workshop, NMSA identified key areas of focus for its action plan, including how to address the challenges that the organization faces as it works toward its goals.
The discussions covered governance/administration, financial stability, the events calendar, talent identification and development, and facilities.
Participants in the workshops suggested to see consistent communication among NMSA members and other stakeholders and policy enforcement and development, including the proper conduct of election of officers for sports federations.
As for NMSA’s goal to be financially stable, there were discussions on maximizing grant opportunities, strengthening relationships with government and business partners, and international federations, and creating revenue-generating programs and events.
While NMSA recognizes the importance of tournaments that attract off-island participants and boost sports tourism on island, Tan and NMSA board member Lia Rangamar (interim athlete representative) believe the association must also build up interscholastic competitions in the CNMI, as student-athletes will provide the islands a deep pool of talents and will ensure the continuity of the programs of each federation. Rangamar also wishes to see programs available for student-athletes who may decide to stay on island and transition to an even bigger role in the development of their respective sports.
Once talents are identified, one crucial factor to their progress are the facilities and again NMSA is looking at working with its partners to secure safe and appropriate venues for competitions, training, and health and wellness activities.
“We explored available resources and formulated the best scenario for our community. In short, the seminar provided us with a systematic and collective vision for CNMI sports and at the same time we anticipated objections as constructive. The short- and long-term plans developed at this seminar also look into the overall CNMI economic landscape,” NMSA vice president and Northern Marianas Athletics president Ray Tebuteb said.
Meanwhile, Spethman said that it is important that NMSA engaged an external party to assist the association in developing its strategy. Spethman will compile the workshop discussions, provide additional input, and turn in a report to NMSA.
“The ability to have an external party assist them provides a different point of view and ensures that NMSA board and staff can participate to their fullest capacity. As the governing body for sports in the CNMI, it is vitally important for NMSA to develop its new strategy so that it can continue to support sports in the region. The new leadership of NMSA will continue to build on the legacy of previous leaders, of course, but the new leadership also has the opportunity to really showcase sports in the region as we move into the next decade,” she said.
“The key focus areas that were identified will allow specific projects to enhance the business of sport federations and sporting competitions in the CNMI. Identifying participation and competition opportunities for all who want to engage in sports will be a key project for the association moving forward as well as ensuring future financial sustainability. It was a pleasure to work with NMSA in this exciting phase of their sports journey,” she added.