The CNMI will be getting slots to three international tournaments next year after its application for full membership in the East Asian Football Federation was granted during the EAFF Congress in Tokyo, Japan last September.
“As a full member of the EAFF, we have been invited to compete in three different EAAF-sanctioned competitions in 2009,” said Jerry Tan, president of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Federation.
Tan, along with NMIFA vice president Sue Knecht, attended the EAAF Congress, which was presided by EAFF president Xie Yalong. At the meeting, members of EAFF adopted and unanimously granted a motion to formally include CNMI through NMIFA in the federation.
NMIFA is the 10th member of EAFF joining the Chinese Football Association, Chinese-Taipei Football Association, Guam Football Association, Hong Kong Football Association, Japan Football Association, Korea Football Association, Macao Football Association, and Mongolia Football Federation.
Tan said competing in off-island tournaments are one of the many benefits that NMIFA will be enjoying as a full member of EAFF.
“2009 is going to be a very busy year for NMIFA and will provide great opportunities for our players to compete internationally,” Tan said.
First on the list is the EAFF Men's Preliminary Round to be held in Guam in March. The host and the CNMI will be competing against Mongolia and Macau.
Winner of the qualifier will advance to the semifinals against Hong Kong, South Korea, and Chinese-Taipei in August with the host county to be announced later.
The second competition will be the EAAF Women's Championship in Taiwan in August. The CNMI female strikers will be battling teams from Guam, Hong Kong, Chinese-Taipei, and South Korea.
NMIFA will also be sending a team to a men's futsal competition in November. The host country for the men's futsal event has yet to be determined.
“On top of these three international competitions, sometime in March or April, we will be competing against the Guam National Team for the 3rd Annual Marianas Cup which will be held in Guam. This is for both the men's and women's divisions,” Tan said.
The CNMI hosted the inaugural Marianas Cup, while Guam was the venue of the second edition of the annual event. Guam swept the first two Marianas Cup.
Besides getting tickets to international tournaments, NMIFA is also entitled to coaching clinics, referee development clinics, equipment, and organizational development funding from EAFF.