BY KATIA KARAGEUZIAN
It is official! A new Homenetmen annual sports tournament is born! And it could not have materialized to a more welcoming chapter! Being the second largest local Homenetmen chapter, the thirty three year old San Fernando Valley Massis Chapter had been heading the call for competitiveness and the prospect of having its own sports tournament to join the lineup of existing tournaments such as the Glendale Ararat HABC games, the Fresno Sassoun games and the Orange County Sartarabad games.
Prepositioned by the Nataline Sarkisyan foundation, the Nataline Sarkisyan Legacy Cup soccer tournament started taking shape almost three years ago, at the heels of a successful first attempt at a soccer tournament by Massis chapter a year prior. In its inaugural year, the rainy weather that kept away other participating chapters did not dampen the spirit of the organizing committees, and the tournament morphed into a festival like event, with music, food booths, fathers playing against their sons, and even alumni players delving into spirited matches. To the delight of the young soccer players, the Nataline Legacy pink soccer ball made its debut and became the symbol of the tournament!
This year, a renewed commitment by the Homenetmen Western USA Regional Executive committee to breathe life into the sport of soccer within the organization together with a more robust organizing committee at the chapter level resulted in a day long multi chapter fun, competitive and memorable tournament which took place on Sunday May 6th, the weekend preceding the opening of the Navasartian games. The Western USA Homenetmen Regional Chairman, Karnig Aprahamian, the Vice-Chairman Pierre Manougian, the Athletic Director Alec Araradian and Sevag Garabetian, member of the Regional Athletic committee, were on hand to witness the opening ceremony remarks made by Massis Chapter Chairwoman Katia Karageuzian. The Chairwoman welcomed the participating athletes from Ararat, Azadamard, Shant, Los Angeles and Massis chapters as well as thanked the Regional Executive committee members for their efforts in generating interest in the tournament, acknowledged the hard work that the Massis soccer committee members put into the event, and thanked Ferrahian Marie Cabayan school for providing the venue of the tournament. Western USA Regional Executive Vice-Chairman Pierre Manougian made his remarks on behalf of the Regional Executive committee, and was followed by the late Nataline Sarkisyan’s mother, Hilda Sarkisyan. The founder of the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation gave an update on the milestones the foundation has achieved in its work to overturn the Erisa Law that allows health insurance companies to deny costly procedures such as organ transplants. The foundation’s goal is to replace the Erisa Law with Nataline’s law for “no more denial of health coverage”. The foundation also raises scholarships for students enrolled in the fields of fashion and the culinary arts that Nataline was planning on pursuing. Every July, around Nataline’s birthday, the foundation organizes a fashion show at the Calabasas Mercedes Dealership to honor her memory. Nataline was a Massis scout as well as a member of the Armenian Youth Federation.
After the tournament’s second anniversary cake was cut, the games resumed until late in the evening. The tournament was also sponsored by Chivas USA which donated two soccer balls autographed by all the Chivas USA players. Booths set up by the Massis soccer, social and scout auxiliary committees sold the famous Massis soujouk sandwich as well as Massis merchandise. The Nataline Sarkisyan Legacy Cup Soccer Tournament which will be scheduled every year on the first weekend in May is presently the only Homenetmen soccer tournament to offer Homenetmen soccer players the opportunity to participate in soccer games in preparation for the Navasartian tournament.
The Massis soccer committee chairman, Vahe Karageuzian, secretary Lori Sarkissian, treasurer Tanya Keshishian; the committee’s advisors and its Executive Committee soccer representatives Paul Avakian and Dikran Ounjian, as well as Massis Executive Athletic Director Arshag Markarian salute everyone who assisted in making the second annual Massis Chapter Nataline Sarkisyan Legacy Cup tournament a great success, and invite the remaining chapters to participate in next year’s third annual Nataline Sarkisyan Legacy Cup soccer tournament.