Behind the CNMI rugby players’ intimidating presence at the field is a kind heart, as they answered the call for help for those affected by Super Typhoon Yutu.
The group, led by Northern Marianas Rugby Union president and assistant coach Stanley Iakopo, stepped up in rebuilding a private school in Dandan and donated clothing to Tanapag Middle School and Kagman Elementary School shelters.
“Isla Montessori School reached out to the CNMI National Rugby Team asking if we can help rebuild the school as they wanted students to return back to school, the following week (after Yutu slammed Saipan and Tinian in the evening of Oct. 26 to morning of Oct. 27). So, on Nov. 3, 10 rugby players came out to assist the school,” Iakopo said.
The group fixed the broken roofs and windows and also did some cleanup at the Isla Montessori School.
Then a little over a week later, Iakopo gathered the players anew and relayed to them the plan to collect clothes for the super typhoon victims and donate other supplies.
“On Nov. 12, we donated clothing to the Tanapag Middle School and Kagman Elementary School shelters. Our hearts melted as we saw people at the shelters smiled after seeing the donated clothing. It’s a sign of faith,” the NMRU head said.
Iakopo added that just like other members of the community, their group did not hesitate to extend a helping hand to the victims of Yutu.
“Without hesitation and despite the hardship Super Typhoon Yutu left to many, especially to people without homes, the CNMI National Rugby Team wanted to help in any way possible to rebuild what was lost. The team is not only about playing the sport, we are a team of selfless, giving brothers to our community,” Iakopo said.
Meanwhile, the squad returned to training yesterday, but it is not mandatory. The group is preparing for the 2019 Pacific Games that will be held in Apia, Samoa in July.
“The team has been itching to get back to training despite the restless days of cleaning debris, rebuilding homes, and going to work. However, head coach Soni and I wanted to ensure that the rugby team players take care of their families and focus on recovery efforts first. Our training will start today (yesterday), however it is not mandatory as many of our players are part of the recovery team. We have been communicating with coach Sam (Sam Fesulua’i Robinson) from Hawaii on a daily basis, as we continue to work on our training plans for Pacific Games in Samoa. We are also working with a rugby team from Guam and Japan to come down to Saipan for some games,” Iakopo said.