Strong foundation gives Perez edge


Former TanHoldings Football Club player Nathan Perez, right, steps in on defense to deflect a shot from their opponent during a tournament in Canada. (Contributed Photo)

Former TanHoldings Football Club player Nathan Perez is doing well with his new team and thanked his former squad and the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association for providing him with strong and sound fundamentals in the sport.

Perez, who was a member of TanHoldings’ U10 team in the NMIFA Youth League, is now playing for the Hollandia Soccer Club in Saskatoon, Canada. The defender, in his first season with Hollandia, has already won a pair of championships—the Hollandia Off-The-Wall and the Saskatoon United Soccer Club Tournament. In the Saskatoon event held early this year, Perez was named Player of the Game in the finals after helping Hollandia to a 2-0 victory against the then unbeaten Aurora.

“I would like to thank my coaches on Saipan for helping me learn how to play soccer. I would also like to thank NMIFA, its president Jerry Tan, and other officials and referees for providing us, kids, opportunities to play and have fun playing soccer,” said Perez, who came to Saipan in 2014 and had no clue how soccer is played when he joined TanHoldings’ training session in 2015.

His father, Jon, even remembered how Nathan had a booboo in his first stint with TanHoldings.

“We signed him up for the U6 grassroots team. When the game started, he was able to get the ball and went on to dribble toward their goalie and unloaded a shot,” Jon said.

From his rookie blunder, Nathan blossomed to become a dependable player for TanHoldings, both on offense and defense. His above-average skills then allowed him to have minimal adjustments when he suited up for his new team in Canada.

“His coaches like how he keeps his focus and composure in the game. He does not let the loud crowd affects his game,” Jon said.

Former TanHoldings Football Club player Nathan Perez, front row second left, celebrates with his Hollandia Soccer Club teammates and coaches after winning the Saskatoon United Soccer Club Tournament in Canada. (Contributed Photo)

The older Perez added that Nathan is one of the smallest players in the league and he defends players who are way much taller that him.

“But what he lacks in height, he makes up for his speed. His coaches and even the parents of his teammates often tell us how fast Nathan is, chasing the player way ahead of him and stealing the ball,” Jon said.

Nathan’s quick pace, good footwork, and great stamina are products of his consistent training under TanHoldings and NMIFA’s grassroots program, added his father.

“He had a great foundation that’s why he continues to play well,” Jon said.

Meanwhile, with social distancing also in effect in Canada and schools and gyms closed, Nathan has decided to train on his own and prepare for the resumption of matches in their league. His parents bought cones and goal for home use, while he also practices at the school field across their house.

“I want to keep improving my skills and stay active while games are suspended and we can’t go back to school yet,” said Nathan, who looks up to FC Barcelona star and six-time FIFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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