BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
On October 1, more than 200 badanees descended upon Ferrahian Armenian School to participate in the 2011 ARF Badanegan (Juniors) Olympics. Chapters from all across Southern California were present to interact and compete against each other in soccer, volleyball, basketball and steal the bacon.
Badanegan Olympics is a long-standing tradition that brings together Armenian-American youth from various chapters for a day of competition. While every chapter comes with the intent of taking home the championship, the bonds of friendship created are much more valuable.
“Olympics is a great opportunity to make new friends” says Asbed Sarkissian, a badanee from the Crescenta Valley chapter. “I really enjoyed reconnecting with old friends seeing all the chapters together.”
The ARF Badanegan Central Council worked for months meticulously planning and promoting Olympics. AYF members also played an active role, coaching and supporting their respective teams. “AYF members were the glue that kept the event together” notes Montebello AYF member and Olympics coordinator Gev Iskajyan. “They did everything from refereeing to organizing the arts and crafts table”.
AYF member involvement was critical in creating bonds with the badanees. Alique Cherchian from the Orange County Badanegan chapter expresses her appreciation for the AYF members’ involvement. “I loved interacting with AYF members,” says Cherchian. “We just clicked”. She acknowledges that, “Even if things did get a little competitive, I had a great time reuniting with AYF camp counselors and fellow campers”.
In the volleyball category, the Glendale “Simon Zavarian” chapter was victorious. The younger basketball division was won by the Glendale “Shant” chapter, meanwhile the older division basketball was won by the North Valley “Hrayr Maroukhian” chapter. First place in soccer also went to the North Valley chapter.
Through participation in events such as the annual Badanegan Olympics, the AYF helps engage young Armenians in a spirit of unity, camaraderie and athletic competition. “It is during events such as Badanegan Olympics where our badanees will create some of their greatest memories and meet their lifelong friends,” says Burbank AYF member Talar Kossakian “As AYF members we must always support our badanees, because not only are they the future of AYF, but they are the future of the Armenian nation.”
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.