CNMI national team pool members Merrick Toves and Sebastien Manabat are heading to Washington, D.C. later this month to attend a training camp with Brookland Football Club.
Toves and Manabat will leave Saipan on May 31 and will be joining Brooklyn’s U20/U23 players in a two-month training camp. The two players, who also suit up for Kanoa Footbal Club, will train under United States Soccer Federation E License coach and Brookland FC founder Thomas Walsh, and will play in the Elite Development Program-organized league. EDP is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S.
“I look forward for the great opportunity to play in a different environment and different team and players,” said Manabat.
The midfielder/centerback added that his while his stint with the CNMI men’s and youth national teams has exposed him to the Asian-type of play, his upcoming appearance in the U.S. league with the Bookland FC will give him a better idea on another brand of soccer.
“I heard they play a more physical game out there. This will be an interesting training camp and a learning opportunity for myself and Merrick. The training camp will also allow us to apply what we have learned from the national team training and our coaches and see how we fare with players in the U.S. mainland,” Manabat said.
The 19-year-old said they are going to play with and against players in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Major League Soccer Youth Academy.
“You can say that these players may have advantage over us because they have more game exposure, so this training camp will give us the time to test our mental toughness, too—how we can adjust under pressure and not be scared of other players,” Manabat said.
Toves is thankful for the chance to attend the training camp with Manabat, saying that it’s a rare opportunity for a young player and goalkeeper like him so he wants to capitalize on this occasion and work on improving his game.
“There are some things I need to work on. I’m really hoping to learn a lot of new things from this trip so when I return I can help other goalkeepers here in the CNMI,” the Mt. Carmel School student said.
Toves said that by playing with Brooklyn FC and in the EDP, he hopes to attract more scouts/coaches who will be at the games looking to recruit players for their collegiate teams.
CNMI Men’s National Team head coach and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita also acknowledged the training camp as an opportunity for Toves and Manabat to prepare for the collegiate play.
“I heard this training camp’s objective is to prepare them for college soccer. They’ve been planning on going to college to pursue higher education and play soccer in a higher level,” Mita said.
“I want them to enjoy the experience and challenge and to always appreciate Kanoa Football Club, NMIFA, their family, and teammates who have been supporting them since the day they started playing soccer. And when they go-off island, always remember to represent the CNMI well on and off the pitch, as they have the CNMI flag on their chest,” the head coach added.