Future with nat'l team takes backseat as Kalei Mau eyes US pro league stint

Mark Escarlote, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Jun 01 2020 08:02 PM

Fil-Am spiker Kalei Mau. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- Kalei Mau won’t be seeing action for the tricolors anytime soon.

The Fil-American wing spiker wants to try her luck playing in the United States, with a women’s professional league already in the pipeline by next year.

But to better her chances of landing in a spot there, Mau is seriously considering on retaining her US Volleyball Association (USVA) membership – the affiliation that ruled her ineligible to play in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year.

“There are a lot of options to weigh,” said 6-foot-2 spiker in an interview on Athletes’ Tribune. “There’s actually a professional volleyball league starting up in the USA, I think next year.”

“Hopefully, it would go well. If that takes off and I am still a USA volleyball player, that would be such a great opportunity,” added the PHI and US passport holder. “That’s such a great option and also it goes along with the citizenship. Like, being a United States citizen gives you so many avenues. It gives you a lot of opportunities same with the federation.”

The 25-years-old F2 Logistics star explained that she has to retain her affiliation with the USVA to compete as a local there.

“Initially I’m a foreign import. I played in other countries. I don’t know how that would affect me if I belong to the LVPI (Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc.) after this,” she said.

Mau was supposed to add firepower for the Nationals, forming a formidable scoring tandem with homegrown star Alyssa Valdez in the SEA Games, but was barred from doing so because of her USVA affiliation.

She was informed just days before the biennial meet that she has to switch membership from USVA to LVPI and serve a two-year residency in the PHI to get a green light to play.

The reigning Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player came to Manila two years ago and played for Cocolife before transferring to F2 Logistics. She led the Cargo Movers in claiming the AFC title last year.

“I was treated as a foreign player when I played in other countries before going here,” said Mau, who played for University of Arizona in the US NCAA Division I. “But since my mother is a Filipino, I was treated as a local player here despite being a member of the USVA.”

However, if Mau remains with the USVA, she won’t be able to play for the Philippines in FIVB-sanctioned tournaments including the SEA Games and Asian Games. The 31st SEA Games in Vietnam is scheduled next year.

But for now, Mau wants to keep her options open and focus on other things at hand like giving F2 Logistics another title once the league resumes following the lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“There’s some other things that I need to focus on like winning the next Grand Prix with F2 and the other championships. But I’ll let you guys know if (playing for) the Philippines is back in my bread basket,” she said.

This story originally appeared on the ABS-CBN Sports website.