Friday, 25 September 2020

 

Azul Claro Numazu can trace its history back to 1977, with the formation of a local amateur team in Numazu City with the name "Numazu Arsenal". Given the fact that there was never any arsenal or weapons storehouse in the city, it is pretty obvious where the team got its idea for the name. Fortunately, this moniker lasted only three years. 

In 1980 the name was changed to "Numazu Koryo Club" (Koryo means "fragrance", or "scent"). Once again, there was no particular connection to either a company or a local industry, though Shizuoka does have an annual festival known as "Koryo Matsuri" (the fragrance festival) which may have inspired the choice. In any event, this name lasted until 2006, when the club took its current moniker -- Azul Claro Numazu.

The team derived its name from the Spanish words meaning "clear blue".  The team bases its name (and official colour scheme) on the clear blue sky that one often sees over the hills of Numazu town. Located near the base of Mt. Fuji, it is famed as the site of several famous sightseeing spots where the magnificent view of this towering volcanic peak is enshrined in art and history. 

Around 2011, Azul Claro became the pet project of former Japan U-23 coach Masakuni Yamamoto, whose influence carried the club quickly up the amateur ladder and into the professional ranks. Until 2010 the team was still in the Shizuoka League, and had no real vision for a professional future. But after climbing three levels in three years, Azul Claro entered the JFL in 2014. This provided a substantial boost in both local interest and league performance. Despite having a home stadium that seated only 10,000 (a number that many people who have visited Ashitaka Stadium find questionable), Azul Claro managed to attract an average of about 3,000, and a season high of 6,874 in 2016. The team rose steadily through the ranks, and by 2016, had managed the third-place finish that put them into the J.League.

Unfortunately, Azul Claro has slipped downward since their third-place finish in the 2017 J3 season, and now is struggling to remain in the upper half of the third division. Perhaps fans should not be surprised ... given the large number of rival teams in close proximity ... that its brief popularity failed to persist once the goal of J.League membership was reached. But there is still plenty of blue sky above them, and hope for further advances if the team can address such remaining shortcomings as the small stadium size and modest finances. If nothing else, Azul Claro provides continuing evidence that Shizuoka Prefecture still is a part of Japan's "football heartland".


Team Results for 20__-2016

Year Rank Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif
2014 (JFL) 7 14 3 5 5 11 14 −3
2015 (JFL) 6 28 8 4 3 17 12 +5
2016 (JFL) 3 59 18 5 7 47 24 +23

Team Results for 2017~Present

Year Rank Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif
2017 (J3) 3 59 16 11 5 60 27 +33
2018 (J3) 4 52 14 10 8 40 29 +11
2019 (J3) 12 39 11 6 17 35 43 −8