If not for the series of unfortunate events that has enveloped the world in the past 12 months, the Cebu football community would have been busy with the Thirsty Cup this weekend. And, based on the shared memories by friends on social media, a lot of them miss the football festival that was instrumental in kicking Cebu football in the right direction.
Started in 2003, the Thirsty Cup made seven-a-side games popular and boosted the age group competition. Of course, don’t get me wrong, age group football existed in Cebu before Thirsty but it really didn’t take off until Thirsty Cup ushered in the popular weekend football festivals.
There were some purists, of course, who got turned off by the idea of kids learning the game in a tournament that doesn’t have an offside rule but for me, well, at least it got the kids into the game. And with the kids came the parents, who after months tagging along in tournaments, decided to try their luck and joined dads’ teams.
And had last year’s event pushed through, it would have been the turn of the football mommies in the moms’ division.
One realization that the Thirsty Cup has been a regular fixture in Cebu football is when organizers realized that some of the age group MVPs in the early years are now football dads on the sidelines.
“Tiguwang na sad diay ‘ta,” one organizer said.
For those outside Cebu, especially those from Manila, there is one aspect of the event that impresses them — the schedule. Nope, I’m not talking about the games itself, but the fact that the Cebu football calendar doesn’t allow conflicts in schedule.
“We call them Fifa windows,’” the late Rico Navarro told a visiting Bob Guerrero, when he explained about the local calendar. Bob was impressed and told us that in Manila, two events, using the same batch of players, are sometimes scheduled together.
But not in Cebu, though, thanks to a united community.
I don’t know when the next Thirsty Cup will be but I do know the next event will see a pitch of green at the Cebu City Sports Center, not the dust bowl that we got used to over the years.
I guess, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing it this year in its usual February schedule, but I hope the Thirsty Cup, like the other local tournaments, will return next year.