NMIFA inaugurates 2nd regulation-size pitch; governor donates $750,000
THE Northern Mariana Islands Football Association, along with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, on Saturday inaugurated the NMI Soccer Training Center’s second phase project: a second regulation-size soccer pitch.
“Exactly 52 months ago, if I remember correctly, it was July 2nd, 2018 — that was almost four months before Typhoon Yutu unfortunately — we opened the new pitch,” NMIFA President Jerry Tan said.
“Today, you're looking at not just the restoration of the first phase but the newly renovated second pitch. So, it took us about a little over six months to get this done and the reason why we need to have the second pitch is because the program is going very well,” he added.
Tan said it is not only the youth program that is flourishing, but the men’s and women’s programs as well, thanks to the leadership of the NMIFA and its executive committee member, Catherine Attao-Toves.
Tan said he was amazed by the dedication of the “soccer moms” who are actively playing in the leagues.
“We really want to encourage everyone in the community to give soccer a try,” he added. “It is one of the oldest sports in America and it is very, very fun to play and you make a lot of new friends. I also witnessed the growth of the men’s program, but it is really nice to see more and more girls and women playing the game.”
Tan said FIFA — the soccer's world governing body — has provided funding to support NMIFA because of the sport’s growing popularity in the Northern Marianas.
NMIFA was provided with 40,000 square meters of land for its first regulation-sized pitch which included mini pitches, an office building and upper and lower-level parking lots. The project was completed in July 2018.
Two years later, Tan said they were growing rapidly so he asked the governor if they could expand the training center area.
He said they were provided an additional 25,000 square meters which is now the site of their second regulation-size soccer pitch.
Tan said the 6-and-under division will be the first group to officially play on the new artificial turf.
“This is why we need to expand, because we really want to grow and welcome more and more players and allow more games to happen,” Tan said.
The NMISTC expansion project will cost $2 million and NMIFA is nearly halfway in raising the amount thanks to the governor’s surprise announcement that he was donating $750,000 to the football association.
“Today is another remarkable and monumental day,” the governor said.
After sharing a story about his interaction with the U17 soccer team, he said, “This just shows how much this word ‘soccer’ has influenced us. To every one of you that's been our representative, thank you for always being our best. Jerry, thank you and the team for continuing what you’ve been doing from the beginning. This is not just about us, it's about health. That’s saying something. So, on behalf of my administration, I would like to pledge an additional $750,000.”
After receiving the donation, Tan said: “The governor just gave us $750,000! Of course, we have to cover the remaining balance but, obviously, you can see we're getting things done so we'll find a way to make it work for the entire investment. We all fought for this investment because we are investing in our youth and community as well.”
NMIFA said the second regulation-size artificial turf field will open more playing and training opportunities for men, women and children which will further benefit the community and help develop a soccer culture in the CNMI.
Published by Marianas Variety - Oct 31, 2022