CALL FOR UNITY. Philippine Karatedo Federation president Gretchen Malalad (2nd from right) talks about plans to unite the two feuding factions in local karate community during the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) Forum at the National Press Club on Thursday (May 2, 2019). From left are Community Basketball Association operations director Robert dela Rosa, TOPS president and People's Tonight sports editor Ed Andaya and national coach Reiner de Leon. (PNA photo by Jess Escaros)
MANILA -- Gretchen Malalad hopes to help unite the feuding factions in the local karate community before the staging of the 30th Southeast Asian Games this year.
“The Philippine Karatedo Federation is extending a hand of unity to the other group in karate. We need to unite now and put our differences behind with the 30th SEA Games fast approaching,” said Malalad, who was accompanied by national coach Reiner de Leon during the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) Forum at the National Press Club in Intramuros on Thursday.
Malalad, newly-elected Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF) president by more than 230 clubs and associations from all over the country during elections last Feb. 17, said the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has already urged all karate stakeholders to participate in a “unifying election not later than October this year.”
A three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and bronze medalist in the Asian Games in 2002, Malalad said she has already reached out to Karate Philippines president Richard Lim and even PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez in search of a win-win solution.
"Even before I ran, I told them we should have this unifying election. I have spoken to them personally. Back then, they don't want to. I hope they change their mind now," Malalad said.
Community Basketball Association operations director Robert dela Rosa also graced the weekly forum supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club (NPC), Pagcor, CBA and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drink.
"We all want to be united. We're all karatekas. Let's do this for our sport and country," Malalad said.
Asked about her decision to lead the PKF in late December, Malalad said she cannot turn her back on the sport.
"There are groups within the PKF which asked me to help out and represent them as their leader. I know the odds are against us. I believe that every club should be included and not excluded in the federation. At the back of my mind, I know I should do something. This is my sport. It would be a disservice for my country if I didn't do anything," she said.
She also assured that the new PKF is different from the one it replaced.
"I can say it's entirely a new PKF. Everyone has a voice in decision making. It's not perfect but we're improving. We're making changes," said Malalad, claiming there are now 12 board members representing different regions.
Both Malalad and de Leon admitted that the World Karate Federation (WKF) has written the POC, saying it is provisionally recognizing the other group. The WKF is the international federation for the sport.
"But the POC has already written them back that there should be first a unifying election. So now we're really pushing for it para maayos na lahat," explained Malalad.
She also claimed friends from the international karate community are now helping her. "We also have federations from other countries which give us advises on how to handle our situations. We will soon write the WKF."