Filipino-Hawaiian star Kalei Mau has not yet secured the necessary documents that would allow her to play for the Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, according to Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Romasanta.
Mau, a University of Arizona standout, has been playing in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) for a year now and secured a Philippine passport early this year but she is still a member of the United States Volleyball Association (USVA).
Mau needs to transfer to the LVPI to be allowed to compete for the Philippines in international tournaments. According to FIVB rules, however, an athlete should have established a two-year residency in the new country of federation before a change can be approved.
"From what we understand, she has to get that release from U.S. Volleyball Federation and for an application to play for the Philippines, and that has to be forwarded to the FIVB," said Romasanta. "It all depends whether FIVB will come up with a definite official ruling. As of now, we don't have anything on paper."
Romasanta added that they do not want to risk jeopardizing Mau's career if she plays for the Philippines without getting clearance from the FIVB.
"We do not want to cause any undue sanction on Kalei regarding playing without any real clear ruling on this, so we opted to advise her to comply with whatever was told to her regarding the two-year residency," he said.
The LVPI is still hoping that Mau can sort out her papers in time, especially since her valuable contributions can help the Philippines end its 14-year volleyball medal drought in the SEA Games.
"We're hoping, with the urgency of the matter and proper representation, we should be able to do it," said Romasanta. "I can understand also the sentiment of Kalei because she really wants to play. I've seen her energize and motivate the team. She's truly an asset to the team other than her playing skills so we want her in the team. However, things being as they are, we don't want to get her into any problem in so far as FIVB rulings are concerned."
Mau represented the Philippines in the first leg of the ASEAN Grand Prix in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. The 6-foot-2 open spiker did not see action in the second leg held in Sta. Rosa, Laguna due to an Achilles injury, but she joined the national team's 12-day training camp in Japan last October as part of their buildup for the SEA Games.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas will get a spot in the Philippine team's roster if Mau will not be able to suit up. National coach Shaq delos Santos said they are also training opposite spiker Mylene Paat to alternate as open hitter.
ESPN5's Ryan Ang contributed to this report.