BY KATIA KARAGEUZIAN
It might have been an overcast day, but the sun shone in the twinkle of the eyes and bright smiles of our youth, as their anticipation mounted at Homenetmen’s 27th Kaham Games Closing Ceremony which took place on Sunday March 27th, 2011. The competitions in Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball, Track and Field, and Ping Pong that were well on their way since November of 2010, culminated in playoff games that same morning. Athletes from the participating schools gathered at the Glendale Community College Stengel Field at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, ready to march with pride as their families and friends cheered from the packed bleachers.
While the Navasartian Games reserve their grandeur in uniting Homenetmen members in exciting annual sports competitions, the Kaham games manage to reach out further into our communities by inviting all Armenian students within the Southern California area to come forth and participate in sports competitions. The official mission of Homenetmen is to promote a “healthy mind in a healthy body,” however, its underlying traditional goal has been to facilitate the cohesiveness of our communities throughout the world by creating opportunities for the Armenian youth to gather, compete in sports, celebrate their heritage and form lifelong bonds. It is in this spirit, that for the first time in Kaham history, a team of Armenian students who attend public schools within the Glendale Unified School District participated in this year’s Homenetmen 27th Kaham Games under the name of “Homenetmen United”. They were received with loud cheers; and reinforced in us the commitment to find ways to reach out to all Armenian students wherever they are, and include them in Homenetmen’s Kaham Games tournament.
Among the honored guests were Homenetmen Central Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Koko Balian, and Homenetmen Western Regional Executive Committee Chairman Garnik Abrahamian. We were also honored by the attendance of Iran’s “Alik” newspaper previous publisher and community figure Mr. Albert Adjemian, 35th Navasartian Games Honorary President Mr. George Jamgotchian, ARF Central Executive Committee members Koko Topalian and Harout Donoyan, and Reverend Father Ardag Demirjian on behalf of his Eminence Archbishop Prelate Moushegh Mardirossian. Also present were the principals and representatives of the participating Armenian schools, the coaches, supportive teachers, and numerous Homenetmenagans. The hosts of the event were Nora Tchaparian and Nareg Medzatchian who thanked all the participating athletes, their parents and hard working coaches, as well as the Armenian schools on behalf of Homenetmen’s Western United States Regional Executive Committee. The hosts articulated in both the Armenian and English languages the principle goals of the Kaham games as being one of “uniting all the Armenian students of the region under one flag by creating a healthy sports tournament for them, in the spirit of friendship, and by implementing the Homenetmen adage of a “healthy mind in a healthy body” within the traditional Armenian education system.” They went on to say that Homenetmen’s mission is to strengthen and uphold the value of the Armenian home, school and culture by instilling in our youth the seeds of healthy sportsmanship, leadership and responsible citizenship with the guidance of Homenetmen’s ageless philosophies.
The performance of the flag ceremony was shared by the Homenetmen scouts of the Pasadena “Azadamard” and La Crescenta “Shant” chapters. They were accompanied by the Homenetmen Western Region marching band under the direction of Vosgan Arissian. The parade of the athletes representing each school followed next. The participating schools were Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School, Armenian Sisters Academy, TCA Arshag Dickranian Armenian School, A.G.B.U Manougian Demirjian School, Armenian Mesrobian School, Charlotte & Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, Mekhitarist Father’s of Vienna Armenian School, St. Gregory’s Hovsepian Armenian School, Vahan & Anoush Chamlian Armenian School, Sahag Mesrob Armenian Christian School, Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School, and Homenetmen United Team. Among loud cheers and endless applause each school team marched holding up their school’s name as the announcers informed the audience of the school’s history and accomplishments. As the teams lined up in front of tall banners bearing the name of their school, Mher Tavitian, the chairman of the upcoming Navasartian Games organizing committee, congratulated all the participating teams and their leadership and invited everyone to the official opening of the Homenetmen 36th Navasartian Games which will take place at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys on Sunday, May 15 at 11 a.m. Seventeen Homenetmen Chapters will be participating in the upcoming Navasartian Tournament. An exciting “Victory Ball” has been scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 2011 in the lot of the CBS Studios. The much anticipated 36th Navasartian Games and Festival will take place from Thursday, June 30th to Sunday, July 3rd at Birmingham High School.
Homenetmen Western United States Regional Executive Committee member and Western Region Athletic Representative Alec Araradian was invited to the podium to give his remarks on behalf of the Regional Executive Committee. In an eloquent speech, he thanked all the athletes, coaches, and school representatives for participating in Homenetmen’s 27th Kaham Games. In addition, he thanked the Western United States Regional Athletic Council for all the hard work they put into organizing the Kaham Games. He was followed by Sossi Shanlian, principal of Sahag Mesrob Armenian Christian School, who on behalf of all the other school principals, commended Homenetmen on its monumental contribution to the Armenian people, praised the tremendous efforts of the Kaham Tournament organizing committee members, and thanked the parents for their support and dedication. Regional Executive Committee member, Alec Araradian proceeded to present Principal Sossi Shanlian with a commemorative plaque.
Western Prelate Archbishop Mousegh Mardirossian’s address was given by Reverend Father Ardag Demirjian, who relayed the Archbishop’s congratulatory words and blessings at this occasion. Reverend Father Demirjian went on to say that beautiful events such as the Homenetmen Kaham Games are a necessity in the prosperity and health of our people, and they are dependent upon our ongoing spirit of community service and relentless commitment to our youth who represent our future. We salute all of our participating students, and congratulate them on their Homenetmen Kaham wins!