MANILA, Philippines – The probe on Philippine karatedo team coach Okay Arpa has started after top karateka Junna Tsukii revealed the Turkish mentor bullied her after winning a gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez told Rappler that the grievance committee is just waiting for Tsukii to return to Manila from her international tournaments to settle the matter. (READ: Junna Tsukii 'bullied' by coach after clinching SEA Games karate gold)
"We will review [the incident with] coach Okay Arpa because there is an ongoing investigation with Tsukii on what happened," said Ramirez. (READ: PSC to support karateka Junna Tsukii's Olympic dream)
Karate Pilipinas Inc (KPI) president Richard Lim reiterated that he wants to fix the "estranged" relationship between Tsukii and the team's foreign head coach, as Arpa continues to be part of the national team's plans for the year.
"They have differences but it can be worked out. But if not, let them be. Arpa is minding other matters, Junna has her own coach. At the end of the day, [whatever method] delivers, that’s the most important thing," said Lim in a mix of English and Filipino.
According to Lim, Arpa is set to help out with the national team's foreign training camps in Ukraine and Istanbul.
Tsukii is currently ramping up her Olympic bid in the female -50kg kumite event, where she recently won a bronze in the 2020 Karate1 Series A in Santiago, Chile.
The Fil-Japanese karateka is actively joining elite international karate tournaments to earn more points and boost her Olympic ranking.
Tsukii can earn a continental slot to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics if she ranks first in Asia before the direct qualification deadline in April.
Arpa isn't the only coach undergoing evaluation from the PSC as Ramirez plans to determine the foreign coaches who deserve to have their contract renewed.
This is in line with the government's sports agency's plan to increase the salaries of local Class A coaches from US$1,200 to US$2,000 and provide them with more training through the Philippine Sports Institute.
"We plan to offer a US$2,000 to a full-time Filipino coach because we give US$3,000 to 5,000 for a foreign coach. But for me, I would invest more on a Filipino coach. Why? Because he’s a Filipino, it will motivate him, we’ll send him to the best schools and seminars," said Ramirez.
According to the PSC chairman, high-performing coaches like those of Olympics-bound athletes Carlos Yulo and EJ Obiena are guaranteed a renewal.
Yulo currently trains in Tokyo, Japan with his long-time Japanese mentor Munehiro Kugimiya, while Obiena continues to flourish under Italian coach Vitaly Petrov. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.