AGBU history is made with over 1700 in attendance at World Games in LA
Published: Saturday August 25, 2012
Los Angeles - In its near 60-year history, the AGBU World Games has brought international youth to various global cities with the goal of reinforcing their commitment to the organization and lifelong friendships with peers, through good sportsmanship and teamwork.
This July, over 500 young athletes from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Uruguay and the U.S. gathered in what is unofficially dubbed as the capital of the Armenian diaspora: Los Angeles.
There, for one unforgettable week that began on July 28, they engaged in sports competitions, social events and excursion tours, which were made possible by the AGBU 2012 World Games Committee and a dedicated network of over 200 volunteers who have been hard at work for nearly a year. When the Games came to an end on Sunday, August 5, culminating with the traditional Victory Ball the night before, participants knew they were returning home not only with trophies, but with memories to cherish forever.
Kicking off the Week: Opening Ceremonies Welcome Global Athletes and Local Officials
The countdown for the AGBU World Games had been ongoing for months, and as the drum roll began at the Opening Ceremony on the evening of Sunday, July 29, it signaled that the much-anticipated time had finally arrived. While the marching band, the majority of them AGBU Scouts, began to circle the track of the Pasadena City College Stadium, the bleachers filled with an excited crowd. They soon put their hands together for the members of the Vartan and Siranush Gevorkyan Academy who performed on the field, the local John Muir High School drummer group and the procession of AGBU athletes that followed, waving their respective flags proudly. The guests' attention was then turned to the welcoming remarks delivered by AGBU Vice President Sinan Sinanian, World Games Chairman Shahe Seuylemezian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, and veteran AYA athlete Hratch Manoukian, who made the sportsmanship pledge.
Among the spectators were a host of dignitaries and representatives, including Armenia's Consul General to Los Angeles, Grigor Hovhannisyan; Mayor of Glendale, Frank Quintero; Glendale Councilmen Rafi Manoukian and Ara Najarian; Former Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian; Minister to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA), Rev. Joseph D. Matossian; Police Chief of Pasadena, Phillip L Sanchez; clergymen representing the Western Prelacy and the Armenian Catholic Church; and official leaders and representatives from the major Armenian political parties.
The entertainment portion of the night then got underway, as David Foster, the 16-time Grammy-award winning musician who has helped produce some of the world's most successful artists, including Madonna, Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, took the stage. The popular group Element Band and singer Hovhannes Shahbazyan also performed. Foster even invited a few members of the audience on stage to sing along with them, while across the stadium everyone rose to their feet to dance. Off to a festive start, the athletes returned to the Universal City Hilton Hotel, where they stayed throughout the week, ready to carry their energy onto the field the following day.
Scoring Points and Showing Spirit
Throughout the week, youth displayed their talents and skills in an array of team and individual sports. Competitions included basketball, chess, futsal, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, and volleyball, all of which drew hundreds of enthusiastic spectators. A buzz of excitement filled the air at each of the matches' venues, the AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Center and High School, the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School and the Pasadena Public High School, with fans continuously shouting encouraging words and cheers. As they progressed from the preliminary games to the finals rounds, the players always demonstrated good sportsmanship and support for one another, ensuring that the games were more fun than competitive. As coach Kev Dertadian of Sydney, Australia commented, "Year round, we watch the players on our teams learn and grow, and it's been a huge thrill to watch them apply all the skills they've developed back at home here at the World Games with their global peers." The youth shared that enthusiasm, and the athlete Josephine Sayegh of Paris stated, "This week has been incredible. It's so amazing to be surrounded by so many young Armenians like myself from around the world who love the same sports I do - I already can't wait to reunite in a new city in 2016."
Social and Cultural Events Fill the World Games Calendar
Day in and day out, the World Games attendees were on the fields or in the stands, but in the evening they had the opportunity to relax and enjoy many planned social and cultural events. On Saturday, July 28, all athletes and guests gathered at the AGBU Pasadena Center for a "Meet and Greet," where they caught up with old friends and sparked conversation with new ones. On Tuesday night, a summer soiree organized by the Young Professional of Los Angeles (YPLA) brought together AGBU World Games athletes with their local YP counterparts to the rooftop of the Sheraton Universal Hotel, where they enjoyed views of the famous Hollywood Hills and Universal Studios.
Halfway through the week, participants were ready for some fun in the sun, and on Wednesday, they got just that with a private party on Huntington Beach, which was organized by the AGBU World Games Committee and managed by the dedicated women within the World Games Special Events Committee. When they weren't cooling off in the Pacific Ocean, guests were at the beach volleyball court for a friendly co-ed game. When the weekend approached, everyone was invited to view an encore performance of the AGBU Ardavazt Theater Company's hit comedy, "Ser Yev Dzidzagh" ("Love & Laughter") at the AGBU Pasadena Center. For over three decades, the theatrical ensemble's productions have drawn critical acclaim, and their show on Friday night was no exception.