Sport in the first Republic of Armenia. Part 2

Photo: inknagir.org

Photo: inknagir.org

Photo: inknagir.org

Photo: inknagir.org

Ahead of the centennial of Armenia’s first republic, we will introduce you to the country’s first improvements in sport sector.  

The government of the independent Armenia attached special importance to the physical readiness of Armenia’s younger generation. 

In the last publication of the 2-part column Mediamax Sport will cover the first sport programs, the beginning of scout movement and the dedication of active leaders. 


The start and projects of sport movement 


The scout movement became the base of the development of sport in the first Republic of Armenia. Although preparation practices at schools were implemented since 1918, the shortage of specialists prevented the government from accomplishing more comprehensive works and achieving results. 


However, 1919 saw some serious and important steps. According to Hayserund, the first scout club was established in Yerevan, led by Prime Minister of Armenia Alexander Khatisian.  


Yeznik Kajuni from Torq club was among the initiators of the scout movement in 1919. He was assigned to elaborate sport programs.  


The program, focused on physical culture was ready on September 30.  Kajuni told that since the current young generation involved mainly orphans, it was necessary to make the development of physical culture a priority in the country. 



RUS 695k was required to pay for equipment, uniforms and salary for coaches. The trainings were supposed to be held at the hall of Astafyan School.


A.Sirma also received an assignment to elaborate similar program. He offered to start the development of physical culture with Swedish-Danish and German drills, provide athletes with relevant knowledge, organize wrestling trainings, as well as firefighting and medical emergency courses.  


Sirma planned to open sport clubs for men and women in Yerevan and requested RUR 25k annually for that pursuit. 


1st scout group 


The first scout group was formed in 1919. H. Narbey was elected as the head of the club. The people also elected Prime Minister Alexander Khatisian as President of Boy Scout Group. He responded the following: “I am happy to accept the position and wish you good luck.”


Photo: inknagir.org


Gradually scout movement gained popularity. Different regions and cities of the republic, schools and orphanages organized new groups with the first review held in Yerevan, April 18 of 1919. 


On the occasion Simon Vratsian wrote: “April 18 was the day of boy scouts. The city was very festive with music playing for them celebrating on every corner. The public training took place at Summer Club.”


The arrival of scouts 


The spreading scout movement needed quality and experienced coaches. Armenia didn’t have those specialists, so they were invited from Constantinople. 


On July 26 of 1920 Armenian General Athletic Union in Constantinople stated that public and sport leaders Vahan Cheraz, Tigran Khoyean and Onnik Yeazmachyan would depart for Armenia. They would be joined by Yeznik Kajuni, who moved to Armenia earlier.  


Tigran Khoyean remembered in his book that the three met Minister of Education Gevorg Ghazaryan on their arrival in Armenia. Then they visited Defense Minister Ruben Ter-Minasian, who warmly received the guests. 



It was decided that Kajuni and Yeazmachyan should stay in Yerevan, while Cheraz and Khoyean would work in Alexandrapol in an old huge Russian barrack, which turned into an orphanage hosting more than 20 000 children. 


The accomplishment of the mission, football competitions 


On September 26 of 1920 Khoyean and Cheraz moved from Yerevan to Alexandrapol. They were accompanied by a football team, which was supposed to compete with Vardan Zoravar. The athletes hadn’t slept well and were hungry in the train, but they should compete, as the tickets were already sold out and Khoyean was appointed as the Chief Referee. 


The match took place on Kalachi Bosti field and Alexandrapol team won 1:0. 


Days later the teams competed again, and Cheraz was the referee this time.


“The forward from Alexandrapol played at the center. Vardan Zoravar won 3:2,” Khoyean wrote.



Members of the 2 teams met after the match and organized a real Armenian festivity with great mood and happy songs. 


Girls and the sport 


Medical-sanitary department was also excited by the scout movement, so in 1920 they wrote: “Please, elaborate a program for physical development of children, as a guide for the regions. The female athletes should be divided in accordance with their age.


285 girls were included in groups at Galanyan and Aleksandryan Schools. Other groups were created in English and American orphanages, as well as Bayazet, Gharakilisa, Dilijan. Girls were involved in athletics, football, hiking etc.  


Armenian-Turkish war 


Gradually the scout movement started to regulate and the number of people involved increased. Nonetheless, this quartet was able to work actively for 2 months only. The Armenian-Turkish war started and Vahan Cheraz made a decision to participate by joining Andranik’s group.


Photo: inknagir.org


On October 31, 30 scouts voluntarily departed for war. Khoyean was also determined to join the men, but people persuaded him to stay with children as his mission was more important.


“Our work is sacred. Physical and spiritual formation of thousands of sweet orphans in Armenia with the rising spirit of scouts are among our priorities.”


The end of scout movement 


The dream of Khoyean and Cheraz also remained unfulfilled; they intended to hold Armenian Olympic Games in Armenia.  


“The government provided them residence at Poligon military district. The Bolshevik rule pursued them. Finally V.Cheraz was executed as an agent of Anglo-American imperialism. Others were killed or deported,” Simon Vratsian wrote in his book. 



Khoyean was able to escape the country before the entrance of the Russians in Armenia. He eventually got to Batumi, then Constantinople, and then established in U.S., where he wrote books and was actively involved in sports. Cheraz’s destiny was tragic though, as the Russians arrested him. He had to overcome long and painful days and hearings, which resulted in his execution in prison in 1927, Tbilisi.  His wife was executed in 1937, while his daughter was adopted by her uncle. 


The scout movement in Armenia lasted for only 2-3 years after the establishment of Soviet rule. 


Hasmik Babayan, Gohar Nalbandyan 


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