Building a Healthier CNMI One Sport at a time

Monroyo, R. (2015, July-September). Building a Healthier CNMI One Sport at a time. TAGA Sports, 16-18.

Roselyn Monroyo – TAGA Sports Staff Writer
About 10 months ago, Kanoa Football Club goalie Amanda Agulto tipped the scales at 280lbs.
In May, during Jerry Tan’s birthday celebration marked by a fun run, a different Agulto showed up to volunteer for early morning race. She was 110 lbs lighter, which a much better grip on her personal health.
Tales like hers are what motivate Jerry Tan to be a staunch supporter of CNMI sports.

“I grew up playing and loving sports. Before, I love the competitive and fun sides of sports, but today it’s more than that. Today, I recognize the big impact of sports on our health. Especially among our children,” Tan said.

“We must admit that in Micronesia, we have a lot of unhealthy and sick people and we can avoid these conditions by helping build a healthier young generation. People who learn sports at a young age and continue to play as an adult are likely to have a healthier, more enjoyable, and longer life. The more sports I lead or support, the more kids I will influence to get involved in sports and live a more active lifestyle.”

Tan is president of the Saipan Bowling Association, Northern Marianas Badminton Association, and Northern Mariana Island Football Association and backs a host of other Sports to the Commonwealth.

Under his leadership, both SBA and NMBA hold various tournaments that cater to its young and old members. NMBA even hosts summer camps for U6 to U18 age groups and is in the process of working with the Public School System and the Marianas Interscholastic Sports Organization on having a regular badminton tournament for high school students.

NMIFA, however, is undoubtedly the most successful—ln terms of attracting membership—among the three groups that Tan handles. From just about 100 players when the association was established in 2005, membership is now around L600 and majority of them are in the youth age group. Players compete for two seasons in a year besides other special tournaments. While camps and other grassroots programs are being implemented regularly.
“The growth of bowling and badminton is limited because of the playing venue. They have to be played in an indoor facility and we all know we have limited ones. Unlike in soccer, you can play in a lot of places and you can always tailor or adjust the rules and regulations based on the needs of a specific age group so It is easier tor NMIFA to attract more players,” said Tan, who has also brought the sports culture to his Tan Holdings employees by hosting different company competitions.

Inspiration and support group
Since Tan made known his special interest in football, it was not surprising to learn that he draws his leadership inspiration from one of the most admired men in the football world — Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager of Manchester United.

“I and my brother Raymond have looked up to Sir Alex. We study him, are inspired by him, and learn from him. He was the manager of Manchester United for nearly 27 years. Most managers from big football teams do not last more than three years, no matter how good they are. But Sir Alex handled the team for about 27 years. We admire that longevity as far as managing a very popular club is concerned! Tan said.

Sir Alex called the shots for Manchester United from November 1986 to May 8, 2013.

“Only a manager like Sir Alex could take that big responsibility for a long period of time. He is disciplined and knew how to strategize and assemble a team that can work together, even though the squad has a bunch of superstars. Those characteristics are what l am trying to learn and apply when leading the different sports groups in the CNMI and our company.” the Tan Holdings president said.

Tan acknowledges the difficulty of wearing many hats but, with good people surrounding him, he is able to pull it through.

“Besides leading the three sports groups I also have a big responsibility handling our businesses and sewing as an official of [the Marianas Visitors Authority] and other local associations I have a lot of workload but l am very lucky that through the years I am surrounded with good people who help me get the job done. Much credit goes to them,” he said.

“I try my best to lead, but I must admit a lot of work are being done and executed by the people who are working with me, be it on the sports or business side,” Tan added.

Olympic dream

Tan has watched the Commonwealth compete in different regional and international sports tournaments but there is one that remains elusive fur the islands’ athletes—the Olympic Games.

“I don’t know if I will call it a goal or dream, but one day I will be very proud to sew an athlete from any sport who will represent the CNMI in the Olympic Games.” Tan said.

The CNMI is one of the few countries that is not part of the Olympic family because of its political affiliation with the United States. Exclusion from the powerful Olympic group not only denies the Commonwealth athletes a rare chance to compete in the quadrennial meet, but also funding and other resources that could help athletes and officials develop their skills and be at the same level as their counterparts in the region.

Moves had been made in the past to seek membership in the Olympic family, to no avail. This year. Tan said that necessary steps are again being carefully taken to help realize the CNMI’s Olympic dream.

While waiting and working for the CNMI’s inclusion to the elite group, Tan encourages athletes to keep playing and vows to continue assisting the CNMI sports community.

“It will make me happy to see young kids running, smiling, and sweating while playing me sports they love. That’s the best form of gratitude l could receive for being at sports supporter.”