Joshua Retamar skips SEA Games, claims lack of support for national team
MANILA, Philippines — Joshua Retamar may be sitting out the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May due to the conflict in schedule with National University’s UAAP campaign in February, but the star setter didn’t hold back in lamenting the removal of Dante Alinsunurin as coach of the men’s national program.
Retamar was a member of the national team that won the historic silver medal in the 2019 SEA Games and the squad that placed fifth in last year’s Games in Vietnam both mentored by Alinsunurin.
Alinsunurin bared on Saturday that he was relieved of his coaching duties after the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) let him go due to his multiple coaching gig with NU in the UAAP and Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League.
Odjie Mamon, who ironically also coaches the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers and AMC Cotabato in the Spikers’ Turf, was tapped to replace Alinsunurin on an interim basis before Brazilian Sergio Veloso takes over the men’s program after the SEA Games in May.
Retamar came to Alinsunurin’s defense and said he has no doubt that his former coach can still manage his time despite handling three teams.
“Siyempre nalungkot kasi alam ko po na gusto talaga ni coach Dante na makabawi and maka-gold sa SEA Games at saka sobrang taas ng pangarap niya sa men’s national team po,” Retamar told Inquirer Sports. “Kaso natanggal po siya so lahat po yun balewala. Kung ano man yung ginawang decision para sa kanya tinanggap na lang ni coach Dante.”
(Of course, I’m sad because coach Dante really wanted to bounce back and win the gold in the SEA Games. He has big dreams for the men’s national team. But he was relieved of his duties and that dream went down the drain. Coach, though, still accepted their decision.)
“I think coach Dante can [coach three teams]. He has a coaching staff and he never stops taking care of us and teaching us. He is always present during our morning and afternoon sessions. I think it was unfair because they didn’t give coach Dante a chance to prove that he can.”
Retamar was conspicuously missing from the 19-man pool for this year’s SEA Games.
The 22-year-old Retamar, however, revealed that he and reigning Spikers’ Turf MVP Nico Almendras were invited to be part of the initial cut but decided to beg off to focus on their upcoming return in the UAAP.
He also clarified that the removal of Alinsunurin has nothing to do with their decision to beg off from the national team.
“When coach Dante was replaced, I know that coach Odjie also have what it takes to handle the national team. It’s our decision to focus on the UAAP not because of coach Odjie being the new national team head coach,” Retamar said in Filipino.
Another big factor in their decision to skip this year’s Games, however, is that Retamar claimed they have stopped getting their allowances since November of last year.
“Nawalan kami ng allowance November. Ang balita ko po kasi daw hindi kami nagtatraining kaya inistop yung allowance. Kami nga yung gusto magtraining kasi gusto namin makabawi sa SEA Games kasi naging mababa yung result namin sa Vietnam. Kami yung naghahabol sana,” said Retamar.
(We stopped receiving our allowances November because they said we’re no longer training that’s why they stopped giving our allowances. But we wanted to train because we really want to bounce back in the SEA Games after our result in Vietnam.)
“Tinatanong namin lagi si coach Dante na kung kailan magte-training para makapag-prepare ng mas mahaba. Lagi lang sagot sa amin ni coach Dante wala pa daw sagot yung PNVF kung kailan. Maghintay lang daw kami.”
(We always ask coach Dante when are we going to train to have longer preparation but coach Dante kept saying that the PNVF has yet to say when and we just have to wait.)
Retamar also said their daily allowance during their build-up for last year’s SEA Games was even lower compared to what they were getting when the team was formed in 2019. They’re even the ones spending on drinking water and parking fees every training session.
“Pinagisipan ko mabuti kasi gagastos lang po kasi everyday training ng national team sa Pasig magkano gastos P800 balikan tapos pagkain pa. Magkano lang naman allowance namin sa national team kulang pa talaga. Magaabono pa kami,” Retamar said.
(I gave it a lot of thought because every national team training is in Pasig and I would spend about P800 back and forth on top of food. We’ll have to spend our own money because the allowance we’re getting just won’t be enough.)
“Hindi naman namin inexpect na tumaas yung allowance. Sana nagmaintain lang, kung tataas po edi masaya kami e. Kaso mas grabe pa yung naging problema kahit tubig sa training, parking yun yung nire-request namin last SEA Games.”
(We’re not expecting to get a higher allowance but the situation got worse with the water and parking fees which we already requested last SEA Games.)
“Parang nakakatampo lang kasi hindi naman kami lahat mayaman, may kaya. Kami estudyante pa lang po. Yung allowance na binibigay, binibigay din namin sa families namin,” he added.
(It hurts because not all of us are rich. We’re only students and we give the allowance that we get to our families.)
Retamar has no ill feelings toward the national team. But he rued the team not having a chance to redeem itself with Alinsunurin no longer the coach and other players opting to beg off.
“Masabi ko lang about sa national team nakakapanghinayang lang na nagsimula kami ng maganda tapos, natapos yung team na ang pangit ng kinalabasan,” Retamar said. “Yung iba tinamad na maglaro kasi walang suporta sa amin. Mas bumaba. Sayang yung mga batang gusto mag national team din na may chance sana talaga dahil sa nangyari. Kahit ako, hindi ko na alam kung ano mangyayari sa men’s national team kasi marami na talagang di maglalaro.”
(It’s just too bad that what started really well didn’t end the way we wanted it to. Others don’t want to play anymore because of the lack of support. Personally, I don’t even know what will happen to the men’s national team because many won’t be playing.)
Inquirer Sports has reached out to PNVF president Tats Suzara for comment but the top official has yet to respond as of posting time.