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For the love of soccer: ex-NMI team members recall sacrifices

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EVERY athlete of any sport has to sacrifice something in order to achieve greatness.

During Saturday’s “Footcast with Norman Del Rosario,” four former members of the NMI men's national soccer team shared what they had to give up. They are Kirk Schuler, JJ Takano, Lucas Knecht, and Trey Dunn.

Schuler said he had to spend time away from work and his family in Iowa so he could play for the NMI team.  "I think that my wife has forgiven me,” he said. “But when I came back from a tournament I had missed my daughter's first birthday. That did not go well with the family, but in the end they were supportive. That's the kind of sacrifices you made as an older off-island player.”

Schuler said he was always happy to play for the team. “I have nothing but great admiration for the NMI, the team and the NMI Football Association, and I was always happy to do it.”

The NMI men's national team members celebrate after defeating Macau 2-1 in the 2014 East Asian Football Federation’s East Asia Cup tournament. Contributed photo

Dunn said his shoulder was injured during a match against a visiting team from Japan. This was right before his wife gave birth. “The real sacrifice was my arm, which was in a sling from the injury for a week, and I could not really hold my baby for the first time,” he said. “I got into a little bit of trouble for that,” he added in jest. 

As for JJ Takano, he said he was “really lucky in regards to timing. When I was on Saipan, there were games and tournaments. I did not sacrifice much at the time. I was single.”

He added that he and his wife are expecting a baby soon. “So if I get an offer from NMIFA, I probably have to sacrifice. I know it is not going to be easy.”

Knecht also did not have to give up moments with family, but back then, it was tougher to take online classes, which he had to sign up for so he could play for the NMI.  The time difference was not easy to handle, he added, referring to the online classes. “It's a little give and take,” he said.

Ultimately, sacrifices for the love of the sport are simply part of the game. 

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