WITH just a few weeks left before kickoff, the 17th Thirsty Football Cup is all set with a total of 222 teams competing in 13 different divisions on Feb. 10 to 12 at the Cebu City Sports Center.

“After a hiatus of three years, the biggest football festival in Cebu is back with over 222 teams. Thirsty has been a big part of football development in Cebu. A good number of players who became national players, playing professionally, playing in collegiate leagues like the UAAP and NCAA have played multiple times in the Thirsty Cup. The event has become a staple in Cebu football,” said Chad Songalia, one of the founders and organizers of the annual football festival.

The bulk of the participants are playing in the Men’s Open division with a total of 40 teams. The Boys 19, Boys 17, Boys 15, Boys 13, Players 11 and Players 9 have 20 teams each. The Ladies Open has 16 teams, while the Players 7 has 14. The Mixed Open and 40 Above divisions have 10 each, while the Girls 17 and Girls 15 categories have six each.

A total of 27 percent of the participating squads are from out of town: Barotac, Capiz, Bacolod City, Himamaylan, San Carlos City, Dumaguete, Butuan, Davao, Panglao, Maasin, Palapag, Argao, Talisay and Badian.

Some of the elite football schools like Don Bosco Technical College, Sacred Heart-Ateneo de Cebu, University of San Carlos, Paref-Springdale and Abellana National School are also competing in the festival.

“Our family has always been involved with sports and the Thirsty Cup is one of the premier events that we organize. Big thanks to my son Charlie, who helped organize this event together with Neil Montesclaros, Milky Cañete, Chad Songalia and a few others. We are happy to not only support football and sports but to help promote good health and exercise,” said Pages Holdings Inc. president Bunny Pages. (EKA)