When the Philippine Azkals stepped on the field of Sharjah Stadium last Wednesday, one of the first things that were noticed was the team’s new kits.
And the manufacturer of the new threads was finally introduced by the Philippine Football Federation, Wednesday afternoon.
“We welcome this partnership with Kelme, which has a long and rich history of supporting football teams,” said PFF President Nonong Araneta. “I think they have supported several La Liga teams before and it’s a huge honor for us, as a federation, that our national teams are outfitted with a respected brand known for its quality and distinct design.
“National team kits form a big part of the identity of the federation and we’re glad to have this simple yet elegant design for our players. Technology in the making of kits has also evolved over the years and we know that Kelme has kept up with the times so we’ll have lightweight and durable kits.”
As per PFF General Secretary Atty Ed Gastanes, it was Kelme that made the first contact if they can sponsor the Philippines during the 2019 SEA Games.
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put negotiations on hold, the resumption of talks between both parties early this year was described as “short but careful.”
“We have agreed that Kelme will outfit our men’s senior team, the Azkals, the U-22 team, and the U-23 team bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, late this year for the next two years as our initial period,” said Gastanes.
“We of course hope that the partnership will continue and we have an option to include the other national teams of the Philippines like the women’s national team, which will be competing in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers starting next year or late this year and even the youth teams.”
While there is still no word as to when the home, away, and goalkeeper kits, as well as other Azkals-related products by Kelme, will be available for purchase for fans and details such as their pricing and where and how to avail of them need to be ironed out, the company is very excited to solve these issues as it tries to expand its market base.
“Our international strategy is paying more attention to Asian markets especially in the Philippines, which has demonstrated outstanding performance during the last years with high-qualifying sportsmen,” said Kelme official Clinton Ke. “We are confident Philippines sports will become much stronger in the coming years.
“We are looking forward to more sports and business cooperation with the Philippines and the rest of Asia as well.”
People watching the Azkals’ game against China raved about the shirts on social media and even the players and staff themselves were pleased especially considering the short notices given to Kelme based on the various personnel and venue changes.
“The kits have not really been a problem with us,” said long-time Azkals team manager Dan Palami.
“We have several players who just flew in but Kelme had been able to provide them with the kits immediately. Sometimes, the kits are here even before the players arrive. We are quite pleased with that kind of service.”
“From a coach’s perspective, you only want two things from a manufacturer, for the players and staff to both look good and feel good. A brand like Kelme ensures that happens,” said Azkals mentor Scott Cooper.
“It speaks volumes for the Azkals and the PFF that a brand like Kelme would step in and work with us like this.”
The Azkals look to celebrate the new Kelme kits with wins against Guam on the 11th and Maldives on the 15th to wrap their joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Both matches have 10:00 PM kickoffs and the Filipinos are targeting six points to secure a place in the third qualifying round of Asia’s biggest competition.