Printer Friendly and PDF

Saipan: Northern Mariana Islands Football Association President Jerry Tan has expressed pride over the islands' women’s football which has grown by leaps and bounds since 2005 when there were virtually no female players in existence.

A delegation from the AFC Women’s Assistance Programme conducted a study visit to the Northern Mariana Islands from May 14 to 17.

The AFC delegation comprising AFC head of Women’s development Julie Teo and AFC Coach Instructor Betty Wong met with Tan, Northern Mariana Islands Football Association (NMIFA)’s Vice President and Chairperson of the Women’s Committee Vickie Izuka, General Secretary Rosauro (Ross) Zapanta, Technical Director Johann Noetzel and other women’s football stakeholders including members of the Women’s and Youth Committees.

On the first day, Tan presented on NMIFA’s healthy women’s football status which included grassroots activities for U-16, U-8, U-12, elementary, middle,  junior high and high schools’ girls’ competitions, Marianas Women’s League, national U-14, U-16 and senior teams’ training and preparations for AFC and regional competition.

Tan also touched on the collaborations with private schools in NMIFA development programmes and also futsal and beach soccer activities.  A national elite academy and a goalkeeper development programme were also set up two years ago.

“We are proud of the achievements of women’s football in NMI, having started in 2005 with zero players and now has grown to be the most popular sport for women on the island,” said Tan. “The women’s teams and events now also attract more print and broadcast media coverage. 

“NMIFA started with small steps of participation in the AFC U-14 Girls’ events since 2012 and now we have produced a national U-16 team to participate in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championships 2015 Qualification.”

Over discussions, NMIFA and the AFC delegation brainstormed a roadmap towards the goal of participation in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Qualification. 

Plans were also tabled for the development of women coaches and to increase the participation of girls in the grassroots activities so as to grow the base for the future.  WAP will continue to review the progress of NMI and support it in the necessary technical areas.

The AFC delegation also met with officials of the public school system, Marianas Intersholastic Sports Organisation, NMI Sports Association and Saipan International School, national coaches and members of the media. 

The AFC delegation also observed the U-12 FA Cup final, an 8v8 mixed football match and national senior, U-16 and U-14 teams’ training sessions.

The Women’s Assistance Programme is an AFC programme introduced to the Member Associations as a development tool that aims to customise development programmes according to their level of women’s football and needs.

The Northern Mariana Islands is banking on the programme to spur the growth of its women's game.