THE Thirsty Cup Football Festival continues to grow in number as they will welcome 349 teams, the largest by far, from Feb. 15 to 17 at the Cebu City Sports Center.
As the longest-running football festival in the city turns a decade old, it has attracted more participation from football clubs outside Cebu, with visiting teams from 11 key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“It's getting bigger every year since we started in 2004 with 120 teams and there's also more support from fans and parents,” said Bunny Pages, CEO of Pages Holdings and Thirsty Fruit Juices and Shakes.
These teams come from Tacloban, Leyte, Bohol, Dumaguete, Masbate, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Davao, Dipolog, Bukidnon and as far as Zamboanga.
The festival will still retain its categories from last year— the Players 6, Players 8, Players 10, Boys 12, Boys and Girls 14, Boys and Girls 17, Boys and Girls 19, Ladies and Men’'s Open and the 36-above and 42 above.
All these categories will be played in a 7-aside format except for the Players 6, which will still be a 5-aside event.
The men's open will be action-packed with 72 teams set to converge on Sunday along with the Ladies Open, which has 22 teams.
One of the highlights of the festival are the night games on Friday in the Girls 14, Girls 19, Boys 19 and Players 42 and above, which will be played from 5 p.m. until midnight.
On Saturday, matches in the Boys 14, Boys 17 and Players 10 will kick off in the sports center while the Players 8, Players 6, Boys 12, Girls 1 and 36-above will be played in Don Bosco Technology Center in Punta, Prinsesa.
Among the things to look forward to are the appearance of Azkal national player Emelio Caligdong and the Leylam Little Azkals. Caligdong will be playing with Erco FC in the men's open division.
“The board's support will always be here for Thirsty Cup. It is the pioneer of football festivals in Cebu and has established itself as the premier football festival in Cebu,” said Cebu Football Association Vice President Rico Navarro.
CFA Referee Committee Head Rodney Orale also assured that there will be enough referees for this weekend's matches despite the late night games.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2013.