One of the biggest and longest-running 7-A-Side football festival, the Thirsty Football Cup, is kicking off today at the football field of the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).
Already on its 12th year, the event has once again gathered more than 200 teams from all over the country.
During the press conference for the tournament at the Sushi Boy, Bunny Pages, the chairman and CEO of Pages Holdings Inc. to which Thirsty Shakes and Juices is a part of, said they are continuing to hold the event because it is their contribution to sports development.
“It is our contribution to sports development and promoting health consciousness in the Philippines,” said Pages, who was joined by sons—John and Michael and tournament director Chad Songalia during the meet-up with the press.
According to Songalia, this year is the first time that the tournament gathered so many participants not only from outside Cebu but also from the Luzon area.
In fact, one of the first to sign up as soon as the invites were sent out was the junior teams of the Loyola Meralco Sparks, said Songalia.
He added that 28 clubs and schools from outside Cebu have sent more than one team to see action in the tournament.
Aside from the Loyola Meralco Sparks, among other teams coming from out of town are Manila Soccer Academy, Xavier Manila, Ateneo de Davao, South Shield FC of Davao, San Carlos City, Beacon Academy, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, Rosevale School of Cagayan de Oro City, Escalante, Silliman, Gardenville of Bacolod and St. Scholastica of Bacolod.
Thirsty is also sponsoring two teams from Tacloban—the Pintados and Pintadas.
Songalia attributes the growing number of participants coming from outside Cebu to word of mouth.
“Some of our teams here like those from Don Bosco Technology Center (DBTC), they compete outside Cebu. Coaches sometimes talk about the tournaments happening in their own area and the Thirsty Cup gets mentioned,” Songalia said.
The tournament will still have 13 divisions—Men’s Open, Women’s Open, 38-Above, Under 23 Boys, Under 23 Girls, Under 18 Boys, Under 18 Girls, Under 15 Boys, Under 15 Girls, Under 13 Boys, Under Mixed, Under 9 Mixed and Under 7 Mixed.
All divisions will be played in a cup-type format except for the 38-Above, which will follow a league-type format because it only has six teams seeing action.
In a league-type format, there is no championship game. The winner will be determined by the number of points accumulated after a single round robin play.
In other divisions, wherein there is two or more groups of teams, groups with three teams will play in a double round robin while groups with more than three teams will follow the single round robin. The top two teams of each group will then advance to the knockout stages, the semifinals and the finals.
Songalia explained that they have replaced the Under 19 with the Under 23 for this year’s edition because of its slight age gap with the Under 18, and it is also in keeping with international standards.
The number of teams in the Men’s Open have also been limited to 32.
Organizers also explained that they will not be holding a BPO or inter-company division, as teams under these divisions are eligible to play in the Men’s Open.
Organizers have also announced changes in its annual photo contest. This year, only photos published in the newspapers will be accepted with the top prize pegged at P10,000, second place at P5,000 and third place at P3,000. The amounts will be shared equally by the photographer and editor.
Also supporting the event is Sunsport, which is providing the balls for the tournament.