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3 brace for challenges in collegiate ranks

NMI players Jeremiah Diaz, Kohtaro Goto, and Dev Bachani formally committed to play for Park University, embracing the responsibilities and challenges they will be facing as they join the collegiate ranks.

Goto, Bachani, and Diaz signed up for the Buccaneers in front of their family members and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association officials during a ceremony last Tuesday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. It will be the first time in the history of NMI soccer that three of its players will suit up for the same collegiate squad and the Bucs signees vowed to represent the islands well and bring the strong work ethic and right attitude they learned with the NMIFA program.

“I will stay committed to the team and the sport just like what I am with the NMI National Team and my club and do the required work to prove that I am worthy of a spot on the team,” said Diaz, who is part of the NMI Boys U18 National Team and also plays for MP United Football Club.

Diaz’s MP United teammate Bachani, meanwhile, said the chemistry and teamwork they have developed while playing for the NMI national squad will be very helpful as they play for the Bucs and try to make an impact on their new team. Goto, on the other hand, will work harder to show what NMI players are capable of.

“Teams maybe looking down on NMI players, but for the past several years, we have proven that we can play at a higher level. So, with us joining a collegiate league, we will prepare ourselves for every practice and every game to keep up with the good reputation that NMIFA’s program has built through the years,” said the TanHoldings FC standout Goto.

‘Come back, give back’ NMIFA president Jerry Tan was among the well-wishers in the signing ceremony for the three NMI players and thanked their parents and clubs for supporting Goto, Diaz, and Bachani in their journey. He also reminded the three players that they are still part of the national team program and are expected to be back home to represent the NMI in future competitions.

NMIFA technical director Michiteru Mita seconded Tan and encouraged the incoming Bucs players to take advantage of what they will learn in the collegiate ranks, bring the knowledge and experience back home and share it to their fellow NMI players, especially the young ones.

NMIFA Executive Committee members Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley M. Bogdan and Norman Del Rosario were also present at the ceremony and acknowledged the three players’ hard work and commitment that allowed that to have the opportunity to pursue higher education as well as continue their passion for soccer.

“It’s an honor for us to see our players going to college and playing the sport we all love,” Bogdan added.

Goto, Diaz, and Bachani are expected to compete for the Bucs this fall season. Park University of Gilbert, Arizona plays in the California Pacific Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Thank you to everyone who supported us and continues to help us be a better player and a person on and off the court. We will do our best to make you proud,” Goto said.

Published by Saipan Tribune - Feb 17 2022

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