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    Saturday, August 18, 2018-8:46:52P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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NMIFA veterans coming back to help NMI Team in East Asia Cup

ENRICO Del Rosario, Jehn Joyner, Joel Fruit, Bo Barry and Ryu Tanzawa the five pioneers of the Northern Mariana Island Football Association youth program will be back on island to help the Men’s National Team who will compete in the East Asia Football Federation E-1 in Mongolia.

It will be the federation’s first time to host Round 1 this September.

Click to enlarge
Bo Barry, left, Jehn Joyner and Enrico Del Rosario pose together before practice at the new national training center held at Koblerville.  Photo by James F. Sablan Jr.

All five of these players are pursuing their degrees in separate colleges in the mainland but made an effort to come back home just to represent NMI once again.

“Every time you get the call from the team you just got to come back because it is home. It always feels good to wear that uniform,” Bo Barry said in an interview with Variety.

Joyner also shared the same inspiration.

“I come back just to represent the islands. It’s my home, I always love doing it, I’ve been doing it since I was 10 years old; it’s the greatest feeling. I would come back every single time I can,” said Joyner.

The last time NMI competed for the East Asia Cup was two years ago and things did not go so well as the team was troubled with injuries ending the tournament winless against Mongolia, Macau and Chinese Taipei.

Bo Barry tore his Achilles, starting central back Lucas Knecht got into a heart scare, Jonathan Jones Takano suffered from broken fingers and Del Rosario suffered from food poisoning and multiple injuries including shin spleens and angle problems. It was a struggle. But this time around they are hoping to come into the tournament healthy and stronger than ever with redemption in their mind. “That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back, because the last time was a disappointment,” Barry said.

“I feel like I’m healthy, I just need to get more fit,” Del Rosario said.

“I feel like I’m more motivated now. Since I was injured I was not able to play to my full potential. So this year will be a lot better,” he added.

Along with injuries, the team was not in sync mentally.

 “There was team conflict. This time we need to build our chemistry for this tournament. To make sure we are all on the same side with the same goal,” Joyner added.

With the experience of playing against stronger, more physical competition off-island, these players are aiming to get all three wins against host Mongolia, Macau and Guam.

This time around the team will be led by Team Captain Jonathan Jones Takano and Vice Captain Enrico Del Rosario.

“It feels good to be Vice Captain. When I first played for the men’s team I was 15 years old and the youngest guy on the team. I learned a lot from all those guys and pass along what I learned to the younger guys that are on the team now,” Del Rosario said.

“I am much honored to be named Vice Captain of the team,” he added.

Although the team will be much younger this time around, they still hope to surprise the competition as the underdogs.

“The team is young, like the captain said, this could be an advantage of disadvantage, and it all depends on us,” Barry said.

“Coming back every year I noticed the Saipan competition is getting really high and the players are getting a lot better,” Del Rosario said.

Ryu Tanzawa, who is playing college soccer in Japan, will be joining the rest of the team when they head to the Japan camp.

Tanzawa and Barry are part of the U15 team that gave NMI their first ever international win. Joel Fruit, a well known freestyler in Asia, is already on island training with the team.

The team trains every day except Sunday at the national training center held in Koblerville.