Kohtaro Goto

Kohtaro Goto looks on as he sets up a play during a soccer game at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

LOCAL football player Kohtaro Goto, 17, is ready to take his skills to the collegiate level after announcing that he will play for Park University in Gilbert, Arizona.

Goto believes that Park University can help him improve his skills. “The coaches there believe I could make a huge impact. Park is a new school but it has a highly experienced coaching staff.”

He added, “I was also able to get in contact with the players on the team and it felt like a welcoming place for me.”

He noted that Gilbert is a very safe town whose weather is comparable to Saipan’s.

 The Park University Buccaneers compete in the California Pacific Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Goto expects the competition to be “definitely tougher” in the states, adding that he will try to keep up with collegiate-level play.

 “Personally, I think my biggest strengths are that I’m very agile, I have good vision  and technical ability,” Goto said. “It helps a lot to be agile, especially being able to get around players and attack and defend when needed. I also would say my vision is a great strength of mine because I’m always looking around the field to see where my team mates are even if I’m not looking in that direction.”

Goto said he also tries to think on his feet and stay one step ahead of the opposing team’s players.

“I am always still working on all these strengths,” he added.

Although his love for soccer is strong, he considers education  just as important.

According to the Marianas High School senior, “I’ll always try to keep myself motivated, manage my time, and try not to procrastinate! It’s going to be challenging especially going on road trips to play soccer but I will try not to fall behind,” he added.

Goto has played for the TanHoldings Football Club and is currently a member of the NMI U18 National Team.

Dream come true

He said playing in the states “is definitely a dream come true! I've always wanted to do this since I was a freshman and it’s been a goal of mine. It’s another step closer to my goal of hopefully becoming a professional soccer player!"

He said he has always looked up to other local players such as Sunjoon Tenorio, Thaiphi Austria, and Sebastien Manabat  who are now playing college soccer.

Goto said he has played with or against them in local soccer tournaments, and they have always supported him.

Asked if he has advice to the island’s younger student-athletes, he said: “Start early and be consistent. Throughout my college process, I always sent emails to college coaches every day and it definitely was exhausting. At times I wanted to stop and just get a recruiter but it’s definitely an exciting process because coaches would schedule calls with you if they really like you. Also, make your academics just as important as soccer or sports in general. I hope I can inspire other student-athletes on island. Feel free to message me [through Instagram or Facebook] if you need advice or anything regarding the college process!”

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