While the CNMI has a lot of “homework” to do when it comes to getting ready for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022, an Oceania National Olympic Committees official said he does see the passion from representatives of the nine sports offered in the quadrennial event set from June 17 to 25, 2022.
“We have a lot of homework. That’s the initial assessment on the first week and that’s from the national federations side. But what’s really driving and motivating me is to see how inspired the national federations are to have this Mini Games. They’re turning up to meetings after hours,” said ONOC chief information technology officer Sitiveni Tawakevou.
Case in point was a meeting they held last Nov. 1 where sports managers of the national federations attended despite a local superstition that people who don’t visit their loved ones’ graves on All Saints’ Day risk being visited by the spirits of their dear departed.
“Yesterday (Nov. 1) was the most important day to some people’s lives. They might be visited by their loved ones who’ve moved on. But they turned up to the meeting. For us, it’s assuring this demonstration of commitment that’s important. They’ve shown commitment to their own sport and commitment to their community,” said Tawakevou.
Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association executive director Carli Sablan admitted she actually had second thoughts about attending the All Saints’ Day meeting.
“We had a meeting yesterday for all sports managers—of all days when everyone was in the cemetery. So, I said if I get a visit from my dad tonight it’s because all of these guys agreed to meet today,” she said.
Tawakevou added now that he sees enthusiasm from the local federations, the next order of business is to sustain their motivation. And that’s where putting into place frameworks that could help them succeed come in.
“The homework we need to do is to actively establish links with international federations. They already have but we now need to move into a second level of interaction so that we could get our draws approved, our schedules approved, will get a lot of things approved. And then the next level of approval is to approve venues. That this venue is marked properly and marked to standards. So that’s the last level of approval for us,” he said.
The ONOC official also said he’s quite impressed with the CNMI’s internet connectivity following a meeting with IT&E and Docomo Pacific.
“We’re very happy that all the network is very new and is fiber and is world standard. The speed is what some other countries don’t enjoy. Also continuity with redundancy and backup so the [Mini] Games coverage will continue and ensures connectivity will go on.”
Representatives of the national federations that took part in the Nov. 1 meeting acknowledged that the ball is in their court now with regards to preparing for next year’s Mini Games.
“It basically rehashed what NMSA and the Mini Games organizing committee had national federations do a few months back. But now it seems like the national federations need to push and accomplish a few critical items soon. For va’a, it’s pretty much the event schedule and assigning people to critical posts like the sports manager, etc. It also includes our procurement list of what we will need to run the va’a races. We have started on this months ago but much work still need to be done,” said Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation president Justin Andrew.
Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association board member Lydia Tan said she took a lot of pointers from the meeting.
“It’s informative in preparation for the Pacific Mini Games for tennis. I’ve learned what are the roles of sports manager and guidelines for the role. It’s a lot to do and with the support of the international federation and guidance, we’ll get there. It’s a little overwhelming at the moment!” she said.
Northern Marianas Islands Volleyball Association president Somia Qua seconded what Tan said.
“Sports managers play a huge role in coordination and liaising with various organizations (Oceania federation, national federations, organizing committee, broadcasting, etc… even government agencies). They ensure that the sport and Games run smoothly. There’s a lot of work to do as the sports manager. The meeting yesterday was just the first. They will be calling weekly meetings to ensure that all federations are moving with their planning and organizing,” she said.