A CALL FOR HELP FOR ARMENIA’S FENCING TEAM
Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Students of the Grigoryan Fencing School in Yerevan, Armenia, with
school director Samvel Grigoryan (center)
BY ALEXANDER AZIZIAN
YEREVAN–Emil is one of our top fencers here in Armenia. He comes to
practice everyday (except Sundays) along with the other handful of
students at the Albert Grigoryan Fencing School – one of the seven
fencing schools in Armenia. Conditions at the Armenian schools are,
however, far below what would be considered a minimum standard for
As I am also a fencer in America, I have seen first-hand how schools
there usually have 8 to 16 fencing strips (where as, in Armenia,
we have only one). Air conditioning is also missing here (only half
of the windows at our school open fully). The fencing schools in
The USA all have fully-lit rooms, while just a few of the electrical
circuits in our ceiling work here. American fencing schools also have
fully working equipment which is always available to all students –
both old and new. Here, at our Armenian school, we need to take turns
using the same equipment every few minutes.
The fencing equipment that our school in Armenia currently owns is
of the worst quality, which is also the most dangerous to have. The
poor quality is the result of shortcuts that were made to cut down on
material and labor expenses. The wood floors of our school actually
have nails sticking out from them. We’ve memorized where the nails
are so that we can try to avoid stepping on them when we practice.
Despite all of this, our boys are still motivated to train as hard
as the current fencing Olympians in other countries. When Armenia
was part of The USSR, the Armenian fencers on the Soviet team always
did extremely well. The championships were won then, however, for
the Soviet Union and not for the Republic of Armenia. Now we have the
opportunity to represent the Republic of Armenia as fencing champions,
but due to a lack of funding, Armenia does not have even a small
fighting chance to prove its valor. Armenians possess the historical
record of being able to win in many sports, and now is the time for
us to win for our own country, not for others.
A young student is instructed by his trainer at the Yerevan fencing
The importance of sports to Armenian culture and society is crucial.
The morale and spirits of our citizens, our soldiers, and the seven
million Armenians living abroad were raised higher when it was seen
that Armenia had won the latest sport competition. Sadly, winning
a championship is something that is rarely seen nowadays, and after
living for more than half a year in Armenia, I understand why.
Due to the blockade, the war, and mass migration, we have been denied
a fighting chance to prove to the world that we are just as powerful
in sports as the bigger nations.
Sports politics play a major role in all of our lives. Armenians can
easily recall the Armenia vs. Azerbaijan wrestling match during the
last Olympics; after our boy won, remember how relieved we all felt?
We felt the same relief as we would have felt winning a war! Two
people were fighting to win, with different citizenships – one person
was victorious, but without the price of death.
I have been to the front-lines of Karabakh where I had the opportunity
to talk to the soldiers to see what kind of a mindset they have about
the current situation. They told me that when the Azeri’s violate the
ceasefire and kill one of our soldiers, we retaliate and take 5 of
theirs. I came away from that thinking how different it is in sports.
High tensions can be released and rivalries resolved in a friendly and
respectful sports match without people dying. Imagine fighting to win –
imagine an undisputed victory – without the need for someone to die!
I have no control over or the ability to change the political system.
Neither can I run to the front-line and take over Baku or convince
the millions living abroad to return to Armenia. But I do have the
conviction that Armenia can and will be victorious in the many sports
competitions to come.
We are now in a position to boost the spirits and raise the
morale of the Armenian people all over the world – just from sports
competitions. This is what I am devoting my life to training Armenian
fencing students to achieve that most noble goal – and I am asking
for others to join me in doing so.
The Republic of Armenia is only 20 years old; if we do not take
good care of our country, it will slowly disappear – culturally,
spiritually, and politically. There are over 6,000 ethnic languages
spoken by different people across the globe, but there are only about
200 countries in the entire world. The Armenian people cannot be one of
those people without a country. Our “ace up our sleeve” is our passion
for sports – and to unite the Armenian people, it’s time to use it.
Students practice at the Grigoryan Fencing School in Yerevan
Albert Susseramart NGO is all about our fencing students in Armenia.
Our Number One Goal is to help guarantee Armenia a Gold Medal in the
2016 Olympics. Albert Grigoryan established fencing as a recognized
sport in Armenia many years ago. He passed away recently, but we are
now finally making his dreams come true.
Providing better equipment for the athletes, renovating the fencing
schools, and recruiting more students to join the schools will make up
the primary activities of the NGO. This will not come about without
cost. We will also need to pay for transporting the fencing team
to competitions both regionally and globally. Our NGO will need to
enlist the aid of the Armenian people around the world to help us
achieve our goals.
Our first goal is to raise $7,500 (USD) to purchase gear for the entire
school, which will be considered safe by international standards. From
there, we will be able to move on to renovating the schools and
purchasing our travel tickets to the next World Competition. Once
Armenia has competed in enough competitions, we will be invited to
also compete in the Olympics. Ultimately, we will be hosting our own
In order to ensure the correct, fully appropriate, and unquestionably
legitimate use of all NGO funds, I will personally be taking on the
responsibility of providing direct oversight and financial stewardship
to guarantee that all contributions are applied in the best possible
manner to fulfill our Olympic dreams.
It has been said that there is sometimes a problem concerning some
organizations in Armenia and that some people misuse words such as
“Charity” or “Orphanage” as a way of making a profit. This need not be
the case. All that is required is that there be a small but dedicated
and committed group of knowledgeable overseers on hand to make sure
that all funding goes to the right place – and measurable progress
will be accomplished. For all donations made to our fencing school
and our team, there will be a daily tracker on our website that will
show clearly the specific details of where the donations are going
and how they are being used.
Please help us to bring to the Armenian people across the globe – and
to the 20-year old Republic of Armenia – the honor and recognition
that can be rightfully ours through the victories we can achieve in
the global sports arena.
My heartfelt and most sincere thanks in advance go to all for your
attention, your support, and your confidence in our athletes.
Now is the time to inspire and lift up our youth and our talented
athletes so that they can make it to the Olympics and represent
Armenia as champions!
For more information and to donate to our cause, please visit our
Indiegogo page and our website.