It started 11 years ago; a simple idea to gather footballers of all ages and sizes to one venue, one weekend, one sport. It’s the Thirsty Football Cup and, each February, the numbers have grown and ballooned. Last year, a record 340 teams joined. Multiplying that by a conservative 10 players per squad, that’s well over 3,000 players. It’s humongous.
Starting tomorrow, the 11th Thirsty Cup will kick off once again at the Cebu City Sports Center. Instead of last year’s three venues, the organizers decided on just one location for all 249 teams. This way, parents and coaches won’t have to hop, like a Sunsport football, from one spot to another.
It’s festival-type. The matches are shortened. The pitches, smaller. The players, fewer. The goal is to score goals and goals. The aim is to crowd multiple games in a brief span of time. Loud music will echo from CCSC’s speakers. Free wi-fi will allow spectators to post Instagram photos. Visitors are arriving and they’ll flood the fields. One notable visitor is “imported.” Yes. While Koreans are seen everywhere in our island, there’s one team that’s flying directly from Korea (South K. not North Korea, as we joked in the press-con). This squad is expected to land in Mactan today.
The 11th Thirsty Cup begins at 5 p.m. tomorrow and will be played throughout Friday night. By “throughout,” I mean all the way until midnight. Then, the next day, the games resume. That will last until late Saturday night. Finally, on Sunday, it’s the same day-and-night competition until the Men’s Open final game is contested late, late this weekend. (Good thing it’s a holiday on Monday!)
The Don Bosco Football Alumni group, led by Chad Songalia and Neil Montesclaros, are, as they’ve been the past decade, the lead organizers. My brother Charlie, who helped conceptualize this fast-paced event, is to be thanked for organizing the Thirsty Cup. This event is sanctioned by the Cebu Football Association, led by Engr. Ricky Dakay, Rico Navarro and the CFA board. Visit the Abellana grounds this weekend. Your thirst for this sport of Lionel Messi will surely be satisfied.