The East Asian Football Association Federation marked the 20th EAFF Anniversary Celebration in the Northern Mariana Islands with a cultural display, milestones recognition, and a grateful heart.
The celebration opened with a video presentation showing the EAFF milestones in the last two decades. The EAFF also highlighted the region’s domination of the AFC Asian Cups for men’s and women’s at the senior and age group levels and the continued development of the game, facilities, and players in East Asia.
EAFF president His Excellency Du Zhaocai, the EAFF Executive Committee members, staff, and guests, and local dignitaries, which include CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Congressman Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan, then watched the local dance group, Simiyan Marianas, performed “Bendision” (blessing) to kick off the celebration last Friday night at the Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan. Northern Mariana Islands Football Association officials, led by its president Jerry Tan, NMIFA club members, and other stakeholders in NMI soccer also graced the important occasion.
Du, in his speech, recognized the NMIFA for its numerous achievements and the people behind the federation’s successes.
“The entire EAFF family is proud of the impressive progress of football in the Northern Marianas. This achievement would not be possible without the hard work of the NMIFA as well as the long-time solid support from the government and local football community,” Du said.
“There is much to celebrate tonight. We should also congratulate our federation for the last 20 years of great success and the great progress from all our Member Associations. We have grown stronger together. And tonight, it is the strength of our friendship as well as football success that we celebrate,” the EAFF president added.
Gov. Torres, meanwhile, marked the celebration of the EAFF 20th Anniversary and the NMIFA milestones with a toast, featuring “tuba,” a local wine made from coconut water. Du, EAFF vice president Kozho Tashima and Hanjin Chun, EAFF Committee members Chris Wang, Ganbaatar Amgalanbaatar, Valentino San Gil, Jerry Tan and Korea Football Association president Mong Gyu Chung joined the CNMI governor on stage for the ceremony. Congressman Sablan also acknowledged the EAFF, as he presented Du with a plaque of appreciation for the federation’s continued support to NMI soccer.
Last Friday’s festivities were EAFF’s second, as the federation first celebrated its 20th anniversary in Tokyo, Japan in July this year. Tan expressed his deep appreciation to the EAFF family for sharing the momentous occasion to NMI and the island’s soccer community.
“It means a lot to us for the EAFF family to come down and visit not just to celebrate this anniversary but also to take a look at what we have done for NMI soccer,” Tan said.
The NMIFA president also rallied the NMI soccer stakeholders to thank the EAFF, as its never ending and unconditional support is the reason why the NMIFA continues to grow its program, develop players, and expand facilities.