THOUGH I’ve covered the Thirsty Cup for over 10 years, including that tumultuous time when fists flew in the Men’s Open, last Saturday was the first time I stayed close to 12 hours at the venue.

First, I had to be there at 7:15 a.m. for the call time of the Boys 9-Under (disclosure: My son, who studies at USC-BED, plays for DBTC) and though you can afford to bend the designated meeting time of friends, families or even office mates, you really can’t afford to bend the call time as told by the coach via your son. Call time is call time.

So I watched his first three games and for the first time in over 10 years of covering the football beat, experienced the dreaded waiting time.

Though you do wait a lot as a reporter for the matches to finish, there really is no waiting time. You may leave the venue and return for the finals matches of other divisions.

But when you’re waiting for the knockout matches, you can’t leave since they are scheduled by progression (meaning, no fixed time) so you wait, wait and wait.

It’s something that organizers try to minimize and coaches and parents want to avoid. The only sector who’s happy with a long waiting time I think are the vendors in the venue because their sales spike.

It was fun, though, as there were a lot of other football dads out there. There was my former boss and current SunStar Cagayan de Oro general manager Jack Biantan, armed with his trusty DLSR to cover the matches of son Ethan Luke.

“Kita sige sugo sa opisina, pag-abot diri, kita ra sugo-on,” he told me while I was on the way to buy water.

I also saw golfers Marko Sarmiento and Mark Dy of the Cebu Country Club there to watch over their kids play for Springdale and Giuseppe respectively. Usually, at this time of the year, and photographer Ruel Rosello would see them in the greens in the men’s division of the PAL interclub but last Saturday, there were no umbrella girls with them in the Thirsty Cup.

I’ve seen Marko’s son Andres play a few times already and he’s one of the advanced players, not only in his team, but in his division. And with him in the Springdale program, he’s going to progress perfectly and from watching in the sidelines in local tournaments, Marko better prepare himself for the Rifa Cup and the dreaded DepEd meets.

Marko said his son also plays golf but he prefers football.

“It’s about teamwork ang golf, naa raman na, pwede ra ma-biyaan,” he said.

Later that night, I returned for the older age groups and stayed until the quarterfinal round and one veteran observer had something nice to say about the state of football in Cebu.

“Lahi-a na sa mga players ron. Kuyaw na kaayo’g abilidad,” he said, pointing out that players in the 15 and 17-Under age group now move and play like the elite men’s open players before.

Overall, I enjoyed the Thirsty Cup and the experience over the weekend was like seeing it with a fresh set of eyes.