2022 finally saw full schedule of CNMI soccer competitions
After the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in 2022, the Northern Marianas Football Association has finally seen a successful full schedule of soccer competitions locally and internationally.
With that, a high rating of 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 was given to the association by NMIFA executive director Ruselle Zapanta. “There is always room for growth and improvement in how NMIFA operates, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
One highlight of 2022 was “for our young players who had the opportunity to travel and compete in Jordan and Australia,” said Zapanta.
The NMI U20 Men’s National Soccer Team competed in the Asian Football Confederation U20 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Amman, Jordan last September, while the NMI U17 Boys National Team played in the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers held in Shepparton, Australia last October.
There are more than one highlights for the NMIFA as 2022 was definitely a big year for soccer in the CNMI, (and globally with the return of the FIFA World Cup). “For NMIFA, I’d say our highlight is the inauguration of our second soccer pitch and the hosting of the EAFF 68th Executive Committee meeting. The new pitch will increase our programs capacity and allow for further growth and development while NMIFA can take pride in hosting leaders of soccer powerhouses, stakeholders and friends who’ve supported NMIFA’s development. It was great that they visited and had the opportunity to witness the work put in by NMIFA with their support.”
“We continue to focus on the growth of our grassroots programs to reinforce our values of good health and wellbeing through sport. With the anticipated growth in participation and now having a new field to utilize, we shall find ways to improve our efficiency to better manage all soccer activities for the NMI,” he said.
As for what the soccer community can look forward to in 2023, Zapanta said that NMIFA is looking to “kick off the year with various courses before our spring leagues kick-off.”
One big competition that 2023 has in store will be for the NMIFA’s young women soccer players “to travel to Palestine and Thailand for the 2024 AFC U20 and U17 Women’s Qualifiers in the first half, while likely switching focus to the Pacific Games toward the end of the year.”
Zapanta then thanked all of NMIFA’s partners, soccer clubs, and volunteers. “NMIFA would like to thank the hard working member soccer clubs and their volunteers who are the core of NMIFA’s programs. [The Public School System] has been a great partner as well, working together for interscholastic soccer. To our sponsors; Triple J Motors, Take Care Insurance, Tan Siu Lin Foundation, Dove/D&Q Distributors, we appreciate their continued support through 2023. For other interested parties looking to partner or work with NMIFA, our facility welcomes you and can be contacted at 234-0173 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Published by Saipan Tribune - Jan 17 2023