Over five hundred young athletes from around the world gathered in Los Angeles for the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) World Games. While the 2012 Summer Olympics continue to unfold in London, in another great city across the ocean, AGBU’s own star athletes have hit the ground running as the 2012 AGBU World Games officially got underway. On Friday, July 27, 2012, over 500 participants, family members and friends, hailing from countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France and the US, arrived in Los Angeles, California.
The World Games’ week-long series of activities will kicked off at the opening ceremony on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Pasadena City College Stadium. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America attended the ceremony and extended his pastoral blessings to AGBU Vice President Sinan Sinanian, AGBU World Games 2012 Chairman Shahe Seuylemezian, the organizers, volunteers and athletes. “The mission of the Armenian General Benevolent Union has always been focused on the youth. The AGBU has invested in the education of the thriving young education with a vision to instill in their hearts the love for their homeland, their Mother Church and their people,” said His Eminence in his opening remarks. The Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, congratulating the organizers and athletes of the 19th AGBU World Games was read by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. The event kicked off following Archbishop Hovnan Derderian’s opening prayer. Excellency Grigor Hovannissian, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles was among the dignitaries in attendance.
Hollywood actor David Foster, as well as Armenian singers Silva Hakobyan and Hovhannes Shahbazyan, took the stage and welcomed local participants as well as those who traveled from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Uruguay.
The young athletes were met by a warm reception of World Games volunteers, who number in the hundreds and have spent months preparing for the week-long series of sporting events and social activities. After registering, the youth wasted no time jumping onto the fields. At 9am on Saturday morning, the Futsal Tournament kicked off, and the next day the athletes gathered in another stadium, this time at the Pasadena City College, for the official Opening Ceremony. Later, everyone took the time to explore an impressive photo gallery with images as well as keepsakes such as old jerseys and banners from each decade in the Games’ near 60-year history. Looking at pictures and mementos from alumni athletes helped this summer’s participants fully appreciate being part of such a great, long-standing AGBU tradition.
The event, which is free and open to the public, has drawn thousands. In the week-long event, the athletes will compete in basketball, chess, soccer, swimming, track and field and volleyball, relying on skills they’ve developed throughout the year with their local AGBU Chapter teams.
For more information, visit the AGBU World Games 2012 facebook page.