The 45th Navasartian Games and Festival will draw tens of thousands this weekend

Thousands of West Coast Armenian-American athletes have competed in a variety of sports over the past few weeks ahead of the highly anticipated championship matches this weekend.

Event organizers at Los Angeles City College expect tens of thousands of people to attend the sports finale and 3-day festival which features food, live music and an arts and crafts market. craftsmanship.

“Homenetmen is an organization dedicated to working with children through athletics and scouting; truly not only welcoming families to our community, but truly dedicated to instilling the values ​​of hard work, of kindness, humility and a real emphasis on volunteerism and it has been in business for over a century and has a very strong presence in the greater Los Angeles area,” said Katy Simonian, of the Committee of the 45th Navasartian Games and Homenetmen’s Victory Ball.

This year marks a comeback year for the 45th Navasart Games and Victory Ball – after the hiatus during the pandemic.

Homenetmen’s motto is “elevate yourself and elevate others with you”. Giving back to the community is what this organization exists for.

“A program that was launched shortly before the pandemic is called Hrashq. In Armenian, it means “Miracle”. This program is dedicated to athletes with special needs,” Simonian said.

Hrashq was inspired by Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s vision for Special Olympics. The founding members have created a coaching system adapted to the needs of each child.

“They can participate in different sports, they can work with coaches who are really dedicated,” Simonian said.

Homenetmen’s first Southern California chapters were founded in the 1970s, but the organization’s roots go back a long way. There is a lot of history and significance behind the organization.

“Its founding member was a star athlete and was sadly among the first group of Armenian leaders to perish at the start of the Armenian Genocide. obstacles, but also a great commitment from its members to be able to carry on this legacy,” said Simonian.

Henrik Sardarbegian perpetuates this heritage. When his family moved to the United States in 1988, his parents wanted to make sure he made friends, stayed out of trouble, and preserved Armenian culture. He started competing as an athlete at the age of 8.

“The goal is not to try to create NBA or MLS stars. The goal is to establish good human beings who have respect for the community,” Henrik Sardarbegian said.

This love for his community all these years later is why Sardarbegian continues to compete to this day, even as an athlete. His two sons now play basketball and soccer; and somehow he finds time to coach and serve on the Glendale Ararat chapter board.

“All the kids come together in some way. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what your background is. In reality, it doesn’t matter what your skill level is in a specific sport. Homenetmen’s goal is not to create athletes superstars is to create good human beings who can get along and respect each other,” Sardarbegian said.

Sona Guekguezian has also participated since childhood.

“I’ve been a member for over 20 years since I can remember. I’ve played basketball, I’ve played soccer, I’ve swum, I’ve played ping pong. I’ve done pretty much everything “, Guekguezian said.

“My mother has been a volunteer and an active member for years. She was part of the party committee and this year she dragged me along with her,” she adds.

For her, the sense of belonging and the generational bond are what make this organization so special.

“From younger athletes, I always remember the line of grandparents sitting on the sidelines cheering, you know, their grandkids, it’s something that was instilled in us. I think that gives you a sense of identity and a sense of belonging, it puts things into perspective and makes you realize that “Yes. You’re one person, but when you come together, I mean the vibe when you’re at the game or you’re at a closing ceremony, it’s just really electrifying and it’s almost contagious. You can’t help but feel good and surrounded like that, with all your people,” Guekguezian said.

Sports competitions and finals will take place from June 29 to July 3. The festival, with live entertainment, great food and fun stalls, will kick off Friday, July 1 at 4 p.m. and run through Sunday, July 3.

The Closing Ceremonies will begin on Sunday, July 3 at 6:00 p.m., culminating in the Parade of Champions, where the crowd will salute our young athletes and volunteers who embody the spirit of the Navasartian Games.

Los Angeles City College is located at 855 N. Vermont Avenue. Accessible parking, as well as metro and bus stops, are available.