NMI soccer players talk about their motivations

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EVERY successful athlete has a person they looked up to during their rise to stardom, and it was no different for the former NMI U12 National Soccer Team members. 

During the third episode of “Footcast with Norman Del Rosario,” special guests Sunjoon Tenorio, Clayton Izuka, Edwin Kim, and Josh Abragan shared who or what their motivations were throughout their soccer career.

Teen Ayuyu's Joshua Abragan dribbles as a Kanoa defender closes in during a game of the 2017 Fall Men's M-League at Hopwood Middle School soccer fieldPhoto by James F. Sablan Jr.

For these four, it was the team that motivated them to be the player they are today. 

In the past, they recalled, the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association only had a handful of players. Although that had its disadvantages, Tenorio said it also allowed the older players to share their experiences with the younger players.  “It kept the younger players hungry to get better and reach the level of the older players,” he added.

The four players said they are very grateful to their teammates and coaches alike for encouraging them to push forward.

For Izuka, playing for the 12-and-under team made him appreciate the sport. He said it was his teammate Chris Aninzo who “encouraged me to be the best goalkeeper I could be.”

Tenorio said he was “pushed into the sport by my parents, but my motivation was being part of a team that was undefeated,” referring to MP United. “To play at a high level was something I wanted to be a part of."

Tenorio said he is thankful to his teammates and coaches for their trust. “At a very young age my older teammates and coaches had a lot of trust in me and I didn't want to let anyone down. I always wanted to fulfill that trust.”


MP United’s Sunjoon Tenorio connects the header against a Kanoa defender during the opening game of the 2018 Fall Youth League U18 Boys Division at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. Photo by James F. Sablan Jr.

The late NBA star Kobe Bryant is another source of inspiration for Tenorio. “Last summer going into my first year of college I would watch Kobe documentaries everyday just to get his mindset. His will to win is my motivation,” Tenorio said.

Abragan, for his part, credited his teammate Jack Unsa for giving him countless tips as a striker while Edwin Kim said soccer has been an important part of his regular routine since he was 9 years old. “It is essential to my life,” he added.

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