Tough love for CNMI women’s team

The CNMI’s Therize Millare, left, and Grace Choi battle for the ball during a scrimmage at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville last Saturday. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Olympian Luem Khen Koo was shouting instructions at the CNMI Women’s National Team during the group’s scrimmage yesterday at the TSL Sports Complex and was still at the top of his voice even though their training session was over.

Koo later explained to his players why there’s a need to constantly remind them about their lapses and show them how to correct these mistakes.

“That’s the job of the coach. You could call it tough love, but if you want them to learn and improve, you have to point out their mistakes and correct them,” said Koo.

The head coach and his team are training for the EAFF E-1 Women’s Preliminary Round 1, which will be played in in Ulan Bator, Mongolia early next month. The final roster for the women’s squad has been selected, but the official announcement is expected to be made this weekend. The group has been training for several months now, holding practice sessions six times a week, mostly at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. Yesterday, the training session had to be moved at the artificial turf at the TSL Sports Complex in Middle Road due to the bad weather.

“They have been training hard for the past several months. Of course, there are a lot of areas in our game that we need to improve and focus on as the tournament nears. That includes working on their passes to the designated receivers and improving their concentration and communication at the pitch,” said Koo, who at the end of their training session demonstrated some passing drills and during the scrimmage told the players to speak louder when asking for the ball.

“Don’t be scared or be pressured when you hear me shouting or see me looking at you. Just concentrate and always remember the plays we have been teaching you,” Koo told the players while they were stretching and cooling down after the more than two-hour practice.

“This is a very young team. The players are aggressive, but they also need to learn how to be patient when making those passes and going for the shot,” said Koo, adding that they will still have a few more days to work on their individual and team tactics before leaving Saipan early next week.

The CNMI Women’s National Team, before heading to Mongolia, will go to Japan first for a training camp. In Japan, they will play against two teams. Then in Mongolia, Koo’s wards will be challenging the host, Guam, and Macau.

“It’s going to be a great experience for a very young team. We will try our very best to prepare them for the tough games in Mongolia,” the head coach said.

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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