Located in the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, the beautiful and historic campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) offers a stark contrast to the never-ending traffic in this metropolis. The university, which opened its doors in 1910, is the largest university in Latin America but is probably better known as the home to the famous Liga MX team, Pumas.
The club’s famous blue and gold colors and Puma logo that now features on the jersey were adopted from ‘football’ although surprisingly both trace their roots back to American football and the universities gridiron football team, Pumas Dorados de la UNAM.
The blue and gold were inspired by the same colors worn by University of Notre Dame’s football team. Football coaches from Notre Dame helped establish the Pumas Dorados team in Mexico. The colors were adopted by the American football team and later the Pumas soccer team.
Roberto Mendez, the Pumas Dorados coach from 1946 until 1961, coined the nickname ‘pumas’ referring to his players. He was known to compare his players to the stealthy and lethal predators in motivational speeches and the handle stuck.
But it was Manuel 'El Pajarito' Andrade that made the now iconic Puma famous. The school asked ‘the little bird’ to make a logo inspired by the puma in 1974. He completed over 800 sketches before finalizing on the current logo. The logo was subsequently adopted and used for all the university’s sports teams.
There is a lasting tribute to Andrade and his design with the jersey #13 considered ‘the Pajarito.’ The numbers 1-11 are reserved for the players and the #12 dedicated to the fans.
The now famous blue/gold jersey with Pumas logo on the front was not always used by the team, however. During the amateur years in the 1940’s and 50’s, the club primarily wore a gold jersey. The adopted the blue and gold when they were accepted into the professional division of Mexican soccer.
The early jerseys included simple logo design that was nothing more than ‘U’ in a block letter representing the University with a soccer ball in between the 2 posts of the ‘U’ and completed with a diagonal sash emanating from the ball on each post with the colors of the Mexican flag.
The logo was updated in the 1960’s and for the first time included a puma. A soccer ball was used as the background with puma headed in the center. UNAM was included on a scroll under the ball.
Even though the colors and design of the UNAM Pumas kit may change from season to season, one thing remains: the fierce face of the PUMA.