Pages: Thirsty Cup: Quenching your football thirst

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Thursday, February 20, 2014


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.

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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 photos on Instagram.

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.

LANCE. I just watched one of the most riveting of documentaries. It’s called “The Armstrong Lie” and it explains in never-been-seen footages and interviews the world’s greatest lie: Lance’s refusal to admit drug use in his seven Tour de France victories.

It started when Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney was tasked by Lance to document his 2009 return. Gibney did as told. He was ready to showcase that film to the public (originally called “The Road Back”) until Lance’s stunning confession to Oprah Winfrey last year. Gibney demanded post-confession interviews from Lance. He got them. In this film, you’ll see the Texan cyclist in relaxed and unguarded moments. I enjoyed the film.

The person seated next to me whose hatred for Lance turned even stronger?

Jasmin. Still, it was a well-crafted film on the well-crafted schemes of sport’s biggest cheat.

LEBRON. The gathering of NBA’s who’s who – the All-Star – has finished but one person isn’t done showing his superstardom: LeBron James. The game after the All-Star, when he scored 22 points in 33 minutes, LeBron did it once more – against the same Dallas Mavericks team. In November, he scored a season high of 39. Yesterday, he topped that by scoring 42. “I’m still tired,” LeBron said. “But when I’m on the court, I’ve got to try to make things happen.” Tired? Like Michael Jordan was when he felt ill, LBJ becomes better when he’s tired. Miami has now won six of their last seven, a winning streak they hope will continue against Kevin Durant and OKC when they meet tomorrow morning (Phil. time). This Durant-James mano-a-mano is a preview of the MVP contest.

It appears that the league’s highest honor will go to either of these two Nike endorsers. For now, it’s 4-0. LeBron has been named MVP on two back-to-back occasions (2009-10 and 2012-13). Kevin? Zero. But, given his 31 PPG average, 2014 will be KD’s lucky year.

(john@pages.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2014.

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