YEREVAN—Sixteen athletes representing the Homenetmen Eastern Region USA participated in the 11th Pan-Homenetmen Games in Yerevan. Held every four years, the 10-day tournament brings together Homenetmen athletes from over 20 countries to compete in a multi-sport tournament. Over 650 athletes participated in various sports including basketball, soccer, volleyball, futsal, track and field, chess, swimming, tennis, table tennis and golf. The Eastern Region USA participated in the tournament with two men’s basketball teams.
Before the start of the competition, on the morning of July 21st, participants from all delegations visited Yerablur to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers.
The tournament officially kicked off on Thursday, July 21st with EUSA Team B playing against Lebanon, which ended with a score of 49 (EUSA)-55 (Lebanon). This was followed by an EUSA Team A triumph against Syria with a score of 70 (EUSA) – 28 (Syria).
On July 22, select athletes from the Eastern Region USA competed in a skills competition. The three-point shot competition was dominated by Eastern USA athletes. Sasoun Tcholakian (Detroit) won first place, Noah Dayian (Boston) took second place, and Sevag Aroyan (Chicago) placed third. In the free throw competition, Tcholakian once again came away with the gold, with Dayian and Aroyan taking second place. Lastly, in the shooting contest, Tcholakian, Dayian and Aroyan all tied for third place.
The formal opening ceremony for the Pan-Homenetmen Games took place on the evening of July 22nd. All athletes and participants proudly marched behind their country’s flag toward Freedom Square. Hundreds of spectators and supporters gathered in excitement to cheer and wave as the parade of athletes marched by. Vicken Avakian, member of the Homenetmen Central Executive, read a blessing offered by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. After the blessing, the following individuals offered their remarks to the participants, each congratulating the efforts needed to organize the games and noting the difficulties that were overcome to ensure the games’ success: Manuel Marselian, chairman of the Pan-Homenetmen Games organizing committee; Sandra Vartanian, chairwoman of Homenetmen HASK (Armenia); Hagop Der Khatchadourian, chairman of ARF Bureau; and Vatche Nadjarian, chairman of Homenetmen Central Executive.
Following their speeches, a torch lit from the Eternal Flame at Tsitsernakaberd was carried through the streets of Yerevan, handed off between representatives of each delegation, until it reached the Opening Ceremony main stage. The final portion of the torch’s journey was carried by Sarkis Stepanian, a soldier wounded in the 2020 Artsakh War. Following the lighting of the torch, the celebration continued with a concert featuring performances by Arabo Ispiryan, Sevak Amroyan, and others.
On the morning of July 24th, the tournament continued with EUSA Team A playing a great game, but falling short against Iran with a score of 58-61. Tcholakian (15 points) and Dayian (10 points) led the scoring for EUSA Team A. EUSA Team B played against Western Region USA, losing with a score of 29-58. Aroyan (10 points) and Alec Arakelian (eight points) were the leading scorers for EUSA Team B.
On the morning of July 25th, the “Hrashq” tournament continued at #17 Specialized School in Yerevan. Hrashq, a program for Homenetmen special needs youth and adults, was included for the first time in this year’s Pan-Homenetmen Games. All Eastern USA Region athletes attended the Hrashq tournament to support their fellow Homenetmen members. Several of the athletes even took part by pushing wheelchairs for the Hrashq participants as the crowd cheered them on.
On the afternoon of July 25th, EUSA Team A played against Australia, winning the game with a score of 43 to 18. EUSA Team B played against HASK (Armenia), winning with a score of 71 to 29.
Tuesday, July 26 was designated as an educational day, taking a break from athletic competition to give the delegations an opportunity to visit important sites in Armenia. All participants visited Dzidzernagapert to pay their respects to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Athletes then visited Megerian Carpet to learn about the ancient art of carpet-making, where they also enjoyed a delicious meal. After lunch, the participants visited Sardarabad. After a day of sightseeing, the Eastern Region athletes joined athletes from the Tiflis delegation for dinner at Machar 44.
Athletic competition continued the following day with the quarter-final games and a face-off between the two EUSA teams. Team A triumphed with a score of 72-58, advancing to the next round of the tournament. On July 28th, the semi-final games took place, where EUSA Team A played against Iran. It was a close game, but EUSA Team A was victorious with a score of 65-54, moving on to the finals.
On July 29th, the stage was set for the men’s basketball final competition: Eastern Region USA Team A versus Western Region USA. The final games were livestreamed online by Yerkir Media and broadcast on Facebook. Spectators at both the basketball venue and eager online viewers watched as the two USA teams battled for the championship. With a final score of 89-41, the Eastern Region emerged as the men’s basketball champions. Mike Baltayan (Merrimack Valley) and Matt Madoian (Providence) led the scoring for the victors, with 22 points each. Immediately following the men’s basketball championship game, the official Closing Ceremony took place at the Karen Demirjian Sports and Concert Complex, with the participation of athletes from every delegation. During the closing ceremony, the Eastern USA Region was awarded the second place overall trophy for the basketball tournament, which encompassed both the men’s and women’s tournaments. That evening, a group dinner was held at Jano restaurant with the Eastern USA athletes joining athletes from Canada, Artsakh and Tiflis.
On Saturday, July 30, the EUSA athletes visited the No. 154 School in Yerevan, where they arrived with brand new basketballs to donate to the school. They had a chance to meet the students and teach them some basic basketball skills and drills. They spent some quality time bonding with the students and even traded their basketball skills to play and learn volleyball with the students. The students of the No. 154 school are currently training in Armenia’s Youth Volleyball program, preparing themselves to one day take part in the Olympics.
On the evening of July 30th, a victory banquet was held at Paravon Restaurant. All participants of the 11th Pan-Homenetmen Games joined family and friends for traditional food, music and dancing — a memorable celebration to mark the end of the successful tournament.
The completion of the 11th Pan-Homenetmen Games represented many firsts — the first Pan-Homenetmen event since the start of the pandemic, the first opportunity for Hrashq athletes to participate on the world stage, and the first time the Eastern USA Region brought home the Men’s Basketball Championship. Ten days may not seem long, but these stories will be stamped not only in Homenetmen’s history books, but also in the minds of hundreds of athletes and participants returning to their homes victorious.