In my previous blog I referenced a soccer tournament that was organized for children from different orphanages across Armenia. With sponsorship from the largest importer of chicken to Armenia (interestingly a majority of whole chickens come all the way here from Brazil, while the majority of legs and other dark meat parts come from America where we discard them in favor of boneless breast meat) we were able to provide jerseys and other accessories for the people playing in the tournament.
All in all it was a huge success. We were able to expose the boys on our team to an organized team sporting experience (in my opinion something that is sorely missing in many lives of Armenian youth), and as the games took place in the national stadium it added much legitimacy and excitement to their experience (and nice grass too). Our orphanage squad was soundly trounced by every opponent, but the boys seemed to enjoy themselves.
As a bonus there was a concurrent tournament between different groups of internationals living and working in Armenia. I played for the Argentinean side and savored the opportunity to get out and do something active for the first time in a while. The best thing about this side tournament was the Armenian women’s national team who showed up and gave a good solid beating to many quality men’s teams. The girls were very skilled and impressive. The looks on the numerous men’s faces that were soundly ‘schooled’ by these women in a sport normally reserved for men in this society was priceless. Though the young boys on our team would never admit it, they were a bit awestruck and intimidated (and hopefully informed) by women in such a position of….dare I say… equality.
Here is our team lined up for opening ceremonies. Ours is the team on the right (the sign reads 'Gyumri'). Notice how small we are compared to the other teams.
Our star player Samvel
Our goalie Arsen in action.
Our Argentinean team vs. the female national team.
Notice the reddish hue of my face while I get worked over by this girl. I almost died of exhaustion due to two full years of relative inactivity in the Peace Corps.