THE Northern Marianas Athletics will start its 2007 CNMI Kids Athletics Tour on Rota this weekend to promote the sport on the island and hopefully help create an athletics club there.
NMA secretary general Robin Sapong left for Rota last night and will stay there for two days to meet with elementary, high school and even out of school kids and teach them the fundamentals of the sport.
"CNMI Kids Athletics is similar to the one we had in 2005 when one of the IAAF Kids Athletics founder visited Saipan. Its main goal is to educate kids about the fundamentals of the sport in a fun rather than in a competitive manner and by using available resources," said Sapong, who was joined by coach Ron Olopai.
In December 2005 before NMA hosted the Micronesian Athletics Championships, Germany's Dieter Massin demonstrated rotation throwing, cross hopping, soft javelin throwing, sprint, hurdle and pole flying.
These are non-traditional events in athletics which make the sport more accessible and easier to participants, especially the kids.
Unlike the pole vault, where an athlete needs to jump high to clear the bar before falling to the ground, the pole flying only requires a long jump using the pole on one side with the athlete falling to make-shift markers, which have corresponding points.
The throwing events use lighter equipment instead of the much heavier javelin or shot put. The hurler is made up of rubber and creates a whistle-like sound when it's already up in the air. In the javelin throw, Massin introduced the use of a javelin made from foam and rubber.
Massin reiterated to the student-athletes and their coaches that Kids Athletics can be done not only in track and field facility, but also in school grounds, parking lots, lawn and other available places.
Rota does not have a track, but Sapong is confident that he and Olopai can conduct the Kids Athletics session on school grounds. "We need to be innovative and use the available resource," Sapong said.
NMA developmental officer Elias Rangamar added that the important thing is to teach kids the fundamentals of human movement, which is throwing, jumping and running.
After the Rota trip, NMA will also hold Kids Athletics on Tinian and Saipan.
Photograph: NMA athletes ready for Kids Athletics