Mike Limpag 2012-01-09 18:47:00
Azkals is NOT about team composition, but attitude.
CONTRARY to popular belief, fans came up with the nickname “Azkals” back in 2005, not because of the varied backgrounds of the members of the national team, but to pay homage to the resiliency of an asong kalye.
In the middle of 2005, forum regulars of Philfootball.info posted a question, “What should we call the men’s national team?”
Though the 2005 Southeast Asian Games was an Under 23 competition, no distinction was made on the team name and it was understood that the name would be adopted for the men’s team.
Aside from coming up with the usual names—Tamaraws, Eagles and other names associated with the country, one user, who wasn’t based in the country, offered a unique suggestion.
Taking a page from France’s Les Bleus and Spain’s La Furia Roja, he suggested Calle Azul or Azul Calle—Streets of Blue.
He also suggested that if Calle Azul or Azul Calle was too long, that it be shortened to AzCal.
That’s when a funny thing happened.
At first skeptical of the acronym that, unintentionally, referred to the creature that is present in all Philippine streets, one poster, after a brief discussion with Sun.Star Cebu editors and football nuts Max Limpag and Noel S. Villaflor, suggested that instead of AzCal for Azul Calle, why not use Askal for Asong Kalye?
The rationale for Askal was obvious and it wasn’t because there were players who were based abroad, it was because in 2005, Philippine football and the players were like the askal—they got no support and love from a basketball-manic country that to survive, they have to be as resilient as the askal.
The discussions and polling that followed were lively and heated and some were not comfortable with the idea. There were also some complaints from the players themselves.
However, then coach Aries Caslib ended all argument when he posted a thread “The players will be proud Azkals!” and asked for suggested logos.
The original Azkal logo, the fat bulldog with the yellowish teeth, was a collaboration with two folks and was designed in less than five minutes. Villaflor came up with a sketch and Glen Michelena rendered it on Photoshop.
In 2008, when the national team was preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Iloilo and had a friendly with a Cebu selection, the name Azkal/Askal got into mainstream media for the second time, with Sun.Star Cebu, The Freeman and Cebu Daily News using it liberally.
But during the Qualifiers itself, which was held in Iloilo, then PFF president Mari Martinez said he wasn’t comfortable with the name and told Pinoysoccer.com that he had formed a committee to look for a more suitable name.
That didn’t push through.