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Philly’s local football festival returns this weekend

The Icarus Cup returns to Philadelphia for the fourth time this weekend, adding a new skills competition to the citywide soccer festival that features local adult competitions, parties and more.

“The Icarus Cup is more than just a football tournament,” said CASA president Nolan Bair. “It is a celebration of the football community and the passion that unites us all.”

The 7v7 tournament, co-hosted by Kensington-based kit designer Icarus Football and amateur adult soccer league CASA, began in 2021. A tournament in Austin, Texas, was added in 2023 and a second one took place last month.

Like last year, 80 teams across multiple divisions are registered, including clubs from all over the Philadelphia area and across the country. Unlike the celebrity-studded, $1 million, winner-take-all TST earlier this year, the Icarus Cup emphasizes the passion for football rather than the winning.

The two players are competing in the 2023 Icarus Cup. (@itsrichimages/Photo courtesy of CASA)

Founded in 2005, CASA has similar emphases, including being “for the players, by the players” and inclusive of all “regardless of background, gender identity, or skill level.” Beyond the Icarus Cup, it produces the Palangi Cup and Neighborhood Cup in Philly and organizes leagues and tournaments in Lancaster, Boston, and Portland, Maine.

Paul Catrino Jr., founder and captain of Sporting Seratonin, has competed in every Icarus Cup in Philly and said he has seen it evolve from “a football tournament with food and drink available” to a full-blown football festival.

“Last year was great. This was really a bigger step in the growth of the tournament as a whole,” Catrino said. “It felt like a great place to sit and relax in between your games, walk around, get a sense of the people who come out to support the tournament. It’s a community effort.”

Paul Catrino Jr., founder and captain of Sporting Seratonin (Photo courtesy of Paul Catrino)

This year’s Icarus Cup kicks off with a meet-and-greet event Friday night at Craft Hall in the Old City, where teams will pick up their kits. Icarus Football has designed unique kits for each of the 80 teams, which they can choose from on a first-come, first-served basis after signing up. For teams that have already worked with Icarus to create custom kits, like Sporting Serotonin, Catrino said the process of choosing from pre-made options this year has been fun.

“It’s tough, man, because there are so many good kits that fit your team’s identity,” Catrino said.

After sharing designs in the team’s group chat, they settled on a white jersey (“We knew it was going to be hot this weekend”), green, yellow, and purple diagonal diamonds (“A lot of our guys love New Orleans”), and a Heineken logo. The jerseys are sponsored to help cover some of the tournament’s costs.

Jaden Stevenson, Icarus Football’s design director, designed more than half of the designs. He won’t be able to play this year due to injury, but he will help organize the event. He said seeing teams appreciate and wear their jerseys firsthand was a welcome break from emails and chat logs with customers.

“A lot of them are really passionate about the kits they choose and they really love them,” she said. “They love telling you how much they love them and it’s really great to hear from them.”

A team poses in their kits during the 2023 Icarus Cup festivities. (@jn3_football/Photo: Courtesy of CASA)

Games begin Saturday morning at three satellite sites at Temple University, followed by playoffs and festivities at Drexel University’s Vidas Athletics Complex.

For those not playing, there will be live music, food, a beer garden and other games. Food and drink vendors include Porco’s Porchetteria & Small Oven Bakery, Rival Bros. Coffee, La Chinesca, Gilda, Blueprint Cookies, Saami Somi and Paffuto.

While there is no room for more teams, it is still possible to register as a free agent. Admission is free to watch the games and enjoy the sideline entertainment and offers. You can even volunteer to help with the tournament.

A player runs past his opponent during a match at the 2023 Icarus Cup (@Kmagaraci/Photo courtesy of CASA)

Following all football games, a celebratory or condolence party will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday at the Black Sheep in Rittenhouse Square.

Catrino said she’s hosting teams from Maine, Texas and Washington, D.C., and will serve as their liaison while they’re in Philly this weekend, making sure they have a good time. Sporting Seratonin is a club that focuses on using sports as a tool for better mental health, rather than just competing. Catrino said the chance to connect with like-minded teams from outside the region was a refreshing aspect of the entire tournament.

“This is something that brings together a lot of different football communities to represent Philadelphia, and that’s a really cool thing,” Catrino said.

Paul Catrino Jr. (third from right) and other members of Sporting Serotonin pose in their jerseys for the 2023 Icarus Cup. (Photo courtesy of Paul Catrino)

For those willing to get up at 10:30 a.m., there will be an all-new skills competition on Sunday, sponsored by Street FC. Much like the mini-games in EA’s video game series, players will compete in six challenges, including goal-post attempts, dribbling, freestyle dribbling, and goalie-on-goal battles.

Catrino said Sporting Serotonin members will compete in dribbling and juggling competitions, as well as goalie battles.

“I think it’s definitely a nice addition to the tournament,” he said. “I think it’s a nice palate cleanser for the whole weekend and it’s definitely something that a lot of people on my team are looking forward to.”

The festival ends on Sunday with a Euro 2024 final viewing party at Carbon Copy Brewing in Cedar Park. The match kicks off at 3 p.m.

“Planning all of this on top of a tournament is an extra effort in my book,” Catrino said. “That’s why I come back every year.”