LOS ANGELES — In its almost 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, more than 500 young athletes from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Uruguay and the US gathered in Los Angeles. There, for one week that began on Saturday, July 28, they engaged in sports competitions, social events and excursions, all made possible by the AGBU 2012 World Games Committee and a network of more than 200 volunteers who had been working on the plans for nearly a year.
The countdown for the AGBU World Games had been ongoing for months. While the march- ing band, the majority of them AGBU Scouts, began to circle the track of the Pasadena City College Stadium on July 29, the bleachers filled with an excited crowd. They soon put their hands together for the members of the Vartan and Siranush Gevorkyan Academy who per- formed 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; Glendale Mayor 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 with 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 Western Diocese 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.
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 and 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 Montevideo 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.”