WATERTOWN, Mass. — Members of the local Armenian community are invited to a watch party fundraiser to support the Armenian national football team as it faces Turkey in its opening match of the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers.
The highly-anticipated matchup will be taking place at Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in Yerevan on Saturday, March 25.
The official watch party, which is being hosted by Armenian Sports News and the Armenian Para-Athletic Federation, starts at noon at Donohue’s Bar and Grill in Watertown. Tickets are $30.
“I’m excited to help bring the Armenian community in Massachusetts together for this high-stakes match between two rival countries and help support an incredible cause,” said Andre Khatchaturian, founder of Armenian Sports News.
Armenia’s match against Turkey marks the beginning of the UEFA Euro 2024 qualification tournament. In addition to Armenia and Turkey, Group D includes Wales, Croatia and Latvia. Every nation will play a home-and-away series against each other in Group D for a total of 10 matches. The nations with the two best records in the tournament will automatically advance to the European championship, which will take place next summer in Germany.
Armenia has never qualified for a European championship, though they enter the qualification tournament with a fresh look and high hopes. Armenia’s match against Turkey will usher in a new era under head coach Oleksandr Petrakov. It will also be the first qualification tournament without former star Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Armenia will look to newcomers like Lucas Zelarayan and Grant Ranos and young stars like Eduard Spertsyan to help them qualify for their first major tournament.
Khatchaturian was inspired to host the watch party after attending various countries’ watch parties in Boston during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“During the World Cup, I noticed nearly every country in Boston had a home bar to watch their games,” Khatchaturian said. “It really brought the people of each respective country together and created a raucous atmosphere, so it made me think, why can’t Armenians have this? And why can’t we use the opportunity to raise money for a good cause?”
Proceeds from the fundraiser will support the Armenian Para-Athletic Federation in its mission to train wounded veterans from the 2020 Artsakh War to become athletes in a variety of sporting disciplines, including mountain skiing, cross-country skiing, weightlifting and cart racing.
Stas Nazaryan, who lost both of his legs during the Spitak earthquake in 1988 and went on to represent Armenia in six different Paralympics in sailing, wheelchair racing and alpine skiing, is now on the board of the Armenian Para-Athletics Federation and is heavily involved in recruiting and coaching the veterans in Armenia.
“I try to keep the men involved in sports so they find a new purpose in life and so they don’t feel limited or defined by their disabilities,” Nazaryan said. “Our young Armenian men … it’s not their fault that they are disabled or lost limbs during the war. But the rest of us have a big responsibility. I consider it my responsibility to be able to help those men because I’ve had a disability for 30 years and I’ve been involved in sports for 25 years and due to that, I have plenty of athletic experience. It would be wrong to not share my experiences with the boys.”
Nazaryan’s goal is to help send wounded veterans from the Artsakh War to the 2026 Paralympics in Paris and continue his legacy in para-athletics.
“The number of disabled men in Armenia has unfortunately grown, and a lot of those men are young men. I have plenty to do and a lot to share with the men. It’s a huge joy for me, and I get very motivated when I work with them and coach them.”
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