Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Famous in Japan

NMIFA Soccer MagazineNMIFA Saipan SoccerTranslation:

Weekly Soccer Digest
Monthly Asian Report: Vol.6
“Ambition of The Tropical Resort Island”
by Takashi Morimoto

From The Northern Mariana Islands
Seeking Membership with AFC and FIFA (with Japanese Support)

“Kazuyoshi Miura? Resort destination? What’s the connection? Well, I would like to say that the CNMI is a place for football foremost.” President of NMIFA (Northern Mariana Islands Football Association) Mr. Jerry Tan said.

He has a great ambition. The first step is to obtain membership with AFC and then FIFA. NMIFA applied for the membership three years ago. Today the application is still under the careful review.

The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands is the US territory, made of 14 small islands in the Pacific Ocean. One of the islands is Saipan, a popular resort destination for Japanese, and recently known as the place where Kazuyoshi Miura was arrested. It is hard to recognized Saipan as a place for football.

By the way, do you know there is one well-known football player of CNMI National Team? The player is Bruce Berline, who is the “celebrity” lawyer for Kazuyoshi Miura. Although he didn’t have any experience playing football, having great athlete nature and challenging sprit, he was selected as a CNMI National Team player last year and played in one of the play-off games against Guam National Team in the preliminary round of the EAFF Cup 2008. He is not playing this year. He would be too busy at the court to be on a field.

So, why has CNMI been working hard for football today?

Mr. Tan replied, “It’s of course impossible to win at the World Cup. The population of CNMI is only 70,000.” Do you think competitive and strong football (FIFA ranking?) is everything? “Of course not.” “The reason why I decided to apply for the membership was that I saw the CNMI matching to FIFA’s philosophy, which is to promote football throughout the world.”

Perhaps Mr. Tan’s background is a foundation of his passion today for football. Born in Hong Kong, he moved to Guam during his early childhood because of his parents business and so he grew up on Guam. At that time, Guam was not a member of AFC or FIFA. There is no opportunity to have an international football match or game. Football on Guam was not popular at all, being lack of fields, facilities, and coaches. Football was not even recognized as a recreational sport on Guam.

However, since 1996 when Guam became the AFC and FIFA member, everything changed dramatically. Today football is the No. 1 sports on Guam, even more popular than American football and basketball, which used to be the most popular sports on Guam.

We see many children playing football after school. Guam also has been helped by JFA (Japan Football Association). JFA sends coaching staffs to help the Guam National Team, such as Mr. Kanbe (2003-2004), Mr. Tsukitate (who was a former head coach for Simizu Youth Club). Guam has also hosted many foreign national teams and clubs as a training place. Recently, the Urawa came to Guam. During that time, Guam National Team played on a practice game against the Urawa. The result was 0-19: Guam lost. However, it was a great opportunity for the non-professional players to play with professional players. Such a huge gap of level (between Japanese professional players and Guam National Team players) surprise Mr. Tan.

Media tends to focus on negative sides of both AFC and FIFA recently, such as messy operation at AFC and reselling the last World Cup game ticket by the officers, but in fact, they have given tremendous efforts and activities to promote football in developing nations and regions.

Mr. Tan settled on Saipan just before he turned 30. His name is famous as one of the most successful business owners of the island, who runs many businesses such as hotels, IT, real estate and amusement services. He is also a chairman of Mariana Visitors Association today. “For many people to love soccer, to improve the technique level, and to deepen the friendship with each other,” Mr. Tan stood up for promoting football through the islands and contributing the local community.

NMIFA’s General Secretary and former National Team Player Mr. Wesley Bogdan recalled the past three years development, “There is only way to express our appreciation toward the generous support from so many and that is to say thank you. Especially, thanks to EAFF which has been incredibly supportive, giving NMIFA the opportunities to participate in the preliminary games for EAFC and in the EAFF U-14 Festival held in China last year and for providing monetary funding for these activities. JFA has also been generous and allowed a JFA member of its International Committee, Ichiro Fujita, to come to Saipan several times now to help and guide our development and hold coaching clinics. He is a special person for us.”

AFC will be visiting the island of Saipan in the middle of the next month to discuss more details for the future membership. Mr. Bogdan said, “The last time when AFC came to Saipan was two years ago. I believe AFC will see and be very surprised how much we have progress and accomplished within these two years. We have opened an office and hired staff and football has increased in popularity in many ways ion response to NMIFA’s activities and undertakings. It is going to take a lot of work, but the NMIFA can absolutely become a member of both AFC and FIFA.”

We look forward to welcoming the 209th FIFA member that would be the 47th FIFA member from Asian Nations.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Co-ed Soccer Schedule

Alright, co-ed soccer is scheduled to run from June 10 - July 31. It is an 8 week season, with games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. All games will be played at the CPA Airport field.

Before the season starts we will play pickup games on Thursday afternoons at the CPA Airport Field. The dates for those pickup games are May 15, 22, 29 and June 5.

We are going to form the teams in the upcoming weeks.

This year we are going to have 6 teams and we are still looking for co-captains. Greg and Mel Borja have agreed to co-captain a team, as have Norm and Dora Camacho.

Please contact Angelo if you would like to be a co-captain.

Stay tuned for more information.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Co-ed Pickup Games

There will be co-ed pickup games every Thursday in May. We'll play at the CPA airport field starting at about 4:45. Younger players are welcome, but keep in mind that they will be playing against adults. All skill levels are welcome, even Brad Ruszala.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who wants to watch a soccer game?

Looks like we're going to be superstars here in the near future because there'll be a screening of the men's 2008 Marianas Cup match between the CNMI and Guam tomorrow night! Yep, so come on down to (Mom's) Round Two for the 6:30pm showing of the big game.

Copies will be available for sale!

*This is not the play-by-play version that will be shown on KSPN2. According to the station, their video is already cut and ready for sale.

PS- Feel free to bring a friend

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Saipan and Soccer In The News

It might not be exactly the way we want it, but here's another reference to Saipan through the Red Mist story that's become somewhat of a legend in Ireland.

This is from The Mayo News, an Irish newspaper that touts itseld as "Eurpoe's best designed paper." How about that? Now that's something to be proud of.

Well, Mayo is not only the name of the paper, it's also the name of a county. I wonder if it's Europe's best designed county, as well. Anyway here it is...Oh, and the link is in the title.

Mayo’s very own Saipan?

Ciaran McDonald’s future divided fans’ opinion online

By Daniel Carey

THERE’S a picture on www.castlebar.ie which was taken at Dublin Airport in March 2005. It shows a raft of water bottles, trays and full-to-the-brim O’Neills bags being checked in by the Dublin kit manager, who’s about to board a flight to Kerry for a league match in the Kingdom. The overhead shot appears under the headline “Why the GAA will never have a ‘Saipan’ incident”.

Until now that is.

Training gear may not be at issue, and the country at large may be indifferent. But six years after the soccer dispute which split the country down the middle, a war of words between a manager and a footballer is again dominating sporting conversation in Mayo.

Some people are firmly behind John O’Mahony, others are entirely supportive of Ciaran McDonald, while many feel there is fault on both sides. And a large number of people seem utterly bewildered, unable to make sense of the events of the last few days.

Ever since the championship panel appeared in The Irish Times last Friday week, Ciaran McDonald was the major topic of discussion wherever Mayo GAA people gathered. In public houses, at matches and on internet discussion boards, the question was the same: ‘What’s the story with McDonald?’

‘RedandGreenSniper’ got the online ball rolling on www.gaaboard.com, noting that McDonald’s omission appeared to signal the end of his inter-county career. “Thanks for the memories Ciaran,” the contributor wrote. “You will always hold a place in the hearts of Mayo fans and, I’m sure, fans of football all over Ireland.”

As of yesterday (Monday) afternoon, the thread which this post sparked had prompted over 200 replies and been viewed over 4,000 times. Variations on the same debate were also ongoing on the Hogan Stand, Mayo Fans and An Fear Rua websites.

As speculation mounted about why McDonald wasn’t involved and whether he would return, ‘IolarCoisCuain’ urged caution, noting: “It’s a long road yet, and there’s no need for hullaballoo.”

But a hullaballoo there most certainly was last Wednesday morning when the Irish Independent carried a rare interview with Ciaran McDonald. The Crossmolina clubman told Martin Breheny that it was not his choice that he was not involved with Mayo and that he was unhappy with John O’Mahony’s handling of the matter.

The first many people knew of the interview was when they turned on Midwest Radio. Having opened his morning programme with a summary of McDonald’s criticisms, presenter Tommy Marren interviewed John O’Mahony, who said there was no reason why McDonald couldn’t play for Mayo again.

As phones hummed and text messages flew back and forth, online reaction was swift. ‘Tubberman’ suggested that neither manager nor player had ‘handled the situation particularly well’ and concluded: “JOM is really under the microscope now and has to deliver this year”.

‘Stephenite’ was of the opinion that ‘if a player wants to play the onus should be on him to stay in contact with the manager and let him know what his situation is’, but ‘the Deel Rover’ disagreed, saying: “The onus is on the management to let the players know whether you … are part of their plans or not”.

Referring to the situation as ‘a serious shambles’, a poster called ‘Barney’ said the McDonald interview had ‘really blown the cat amongst the pigeons’. Criticising contact by text, he added: “For me the problem begins and ends with this daft notion of a public announcement of a championship panel”. ‘Maradona’ (presumably not the Argentinian Maradona) said that he was probably McDonald’s ‘biggest fan’, but that the ‘will he won’t he’ questions which had dogged Mayo teams in recent years went ‘against collective team building’. The ‘ideal scenario’, he concluded, would be for both men to ‘get together and sort out the issues’.

Perhaps the most unlikely scenario outlined on all the discussion boards was the ‘McDonald for President’ call by ‘midLouth’. Mind you, stranger things have happened. After all, Saipan spawned a musical …

Monday, May 5, 2008

CNMI Women in the news

Newman makes NMASA's Athlete of the Month

After denying the women of Guam a score during last week's 2008 Marianas Cup, CNMI Women's National Soccer Team goalkeeper Rebecca "The Wall" Newman was named as the Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association's Female Athlete of the Month.

Newman deflected praise as effortlessly as she deflected shots by saying that her defense made her look better than she was. Though she admitted to bringing her "A-Game," Newman attributed most of her success between the pipes to her teammates.

Here's the story from the Saipan Tribune.

NMASA spreads out monthly honors

The Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association spread the wealth Thursday night when it awarded Athletes of the Month honors to four athletes from different sports.

Northern Marianas Swimming Federation's Rezne Wong and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association's Becca Newman were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Month, while Christian Miller of the Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Association and Lia Rangamar of the Northern Marianas Athletics earned the Male and Female Student Athletes of the Month.

Wong, who is a member of Tsunami Swimming Center Saipan, competed in the 2008 GSF All Island Invitational Swim Meet last Aoril 26 at the Hagatna Pool in Guam.

The Marianas High School student finished first in the 200m individual medley with a time of 2:17.46 and also topped the 100m backstroke after touching the tile in 1:08.38. He competed in the open division.

His time in the 200m IM was just a second and change off the CNMI age group record of 2:16.56 set in 2003 by Dean Palacios. Wong’s 100m backstroke, meanwhile, was just tenths of a second off Juan Camacho’s record-setting pace of 1:07.03 he recorded in 2006.

Wong also finished second in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle with times of 29.18, which is just .17 off the 29.01 record of Seung Jin Lee in 2001, and 26.18 almost comparable to the 25.68 set by the immortal John Sakovich way back in 1987.

Newman, meanwhile, helped the unranked CNMI Women's National Football team force Guam to a surprising scoreless draw in last weekend's 2nd Annual Marianas Cup football match held at the Civic Center Field inside the Susupe Sports Complex.

Newman, playing as goalkeeper, put up a defensive wall at the CNMI goal against a Guam team that is ranked 75th in the world. Her impressive stint earned her the tournament most valuable player honors, which were voted on by members of both teams.

She had a total of 17 saves including a number of key stops in the two overtime periods that could have allowed Guam to escape with the win. This was also Newman's second time as a member of the CNMI national team.

Aside from being a member of the Women's Nationals, Newman also serves as a Women's Football Committee member, treasurer of the Paire Football Club, Under-8 coach, and captain of her Women's Football League team.

Miller, for his part, earned the CNMI top ranking in the boys' 13-and-under division after winning the Spectrum Electric-Marianas Medical Center CNMI Junior Championships in both the singles and doubles events.

The singles and doubles titles in the junior championships were also Miller's fourth crown in April. He won the Under-13 title in the junior championships after a 6-3, 6-1 win against Nathan Nutting then teamed up with Daniel Camacho to score a 6-4, 6-0 triumph against brothers Jake and Aaron Lee in the doubles event in last week's finals.

Early last month, Miller avenged his Coconut Classic loss to Rafael Jones to claim the Pacific Islands Club-Gatorade Tennis Tournament 13-and-under crown with a hard-earned 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 win.

Miller will be the CNMI's top-ranked player heading into the International Tennis Federation-North Pacific Qualifying Event from June 16 to 20 in Guam.

NMA's Rangamar earned the female student honors after a dominating performance in last month's preliminary trials in the 4th Annual McDonald’s All-Schools Track and Field Championship.

The 13-year-old multi-event athlete is coming of age and proved this when she competed against other athletes who are in the high school division. She set national age group records in the 200m run, javelin, and discus throw as well as finished in the Top 3 of three more events.

She clocked in 30.96 seconds in the 200m run, and threw distances of 27.48m and 22m in the javelin and discus throw.

Aside from breaking age group records, Rangamar also topped the 400m run with a time of 1:12.23, placed second in long jump with a jump of 3.75m, then cleared the bar in high jump with a height of 1.25m for another second place finish.

Other nominees for last month's sports plums were NMA's Jessie Brel, Jericho Cruz, and Jacque Wonenberg, NMITA's Amy Arenovski, NMSF's Carol Lynn Pierce, Kaito Yanai, and Fumika Umeda, and NMIFA's Joe Miller.