Jaja Santiago acquiring Japanese citizenship, out for Philippine team–De Brito
MANILA, Philippines — Jaja Santiago will not play in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia as she is already processing her Japanese citizenship, according to Philippine women’s volleyball team coach Jorge Souza de Brito.
“I don’t think so because she has started the process for [Japanese] citizenship. Bad for us, good for them,” Souza de Brito told the reporters after the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference press launch on Saturday.
“Good for her also. I’m always hoping that she can be happy. As you know she’s a good player,” De Brito added.
Although the 6-foot-5 middle blocker is still processing her papers, the national team coach doesn’t think the former PVL MVP can join the team in Cambodia in May due to FIVB’s rules in her application to change the Federation of Origin.
“I don’t think she can play for our national team. When she finishes the process there in Japan, she can play for the national team for Japan,” De Brito said. “For the last competition, she cannot join because there are some rules there that she has to follow.”
Philippine women’s volleyball team coach Jorge Souza de Brito bares Jaja Santiago is already processing her Japanese citizenship.
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Saturday, January 28, 2023
Under the FIVB sports regulations’ March 2022 rule, “a player who has previously played for another national team will only be eligible to play for a national squad of the new federation only after two years have elapsed. This two-year period starts from the day that the complete application file (including the payment of the administrative fee), containing all required documents, is received by the FIVB”.
Santiago, reigning V.League Best Blocker, also needs to obtain her Japanese citizenship and a Japanese passport and a mutual agreement between the Philippine National Volleyball Federation and Japan Volleyball Association to approve her transfer.
Inquirer Sports sought Santiago for comments but the Ageo Medics star has yet to respond as of posting time.
The former National University star has been playing in Japan V.League since 2018. She last played for Chery Tiggo in their historic title run in the 2021 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference bubble in Ilocos Norte.
She joined the national team in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam last year but they missed the podium anew and placed fourth.
The 27-year-old Santiago announced last August that she is engaged to Japanese coach Taka Minowa.
In a separate interview, her elder sister, Dindin Santiago-Manabat shared that it’s Jaja’s dream to play for the Japan national team.
“Gusto niya talaga. Pangarap niya ‘yun, kaya siyempre kapag gusto naman talaga niya walang makakapigil sa kanya,” said Manabat. “Madalas kaming nag-uusap pero siyempre sa amin magagawa namin is suportahan si Jaja kung ano ang pangarap niya. Kasi ganoon naman talaga, kung ano ang pangarap ng isa o happiness ng isa, andito lang kami para suportahan siya.”
(It’s her dream and if she really wants it, no one can stop her from pursuing that dream. We often talk about it and we’re here to support Jaja with her dream. Because that’s what family does, we will support her dream and happiness.)
Manabat, who will play for Akari under de Brito, said the Japanese national team also wants Santiago to be part of its squad but the timetable for the completion of her citizenship is still uncertain.
“Actually hindi ko alam kung may karapatan akong magsalita dito kasi si Jaja ‘yun. Pero ‘yun nga, gusto siya, gusto talaga siya sa national team ng Japan. Kasi kung hindi naman, hindi naman niya ipu-push through ‘yun eh,” Manabat said.
(I don’t know if I have the right to talk about this for Jaja. But the Japan national team is also interested in Jaja. Because if not, she won’t be that eager to push through with her naturalization.)
Chery Tiggo coach and manager Aaron Velez said the other day that Santiago is still part of Chery Tiggo’s line-up for the All-Filipino Conference but her availability still depends on Ageo Medics’ fate in the 2022-23 V.League season.