|11 December 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Kirill Zakharchuk is one of a number of young Armenians who will benefit from his country now having a senior man program |
The Armenian Basketball Federation (BFA) is laying the groundwork for a milestone in the history of men's basketball in the country.
The BFA is working towards establishing and then registering a team in the European Championship Of The Small Countries Men, in 2014.
If everything goes smoothly, it will be the first time ever that an Armenian senior men's national team competes in a European competition.
Armenia's U16 side participated in the 2011 European Championship Division B in F.Y.R.of Macedonia and earned a magnificent sixth-place finish, claiming victories over traditional basketball nations like Israel and Slovakia along the way.
That excellent showing probably strengthened the BFA's determination in undertaking the senior men's team project.
An important moment of the process came last February, when the federation entrusted coach Carl Bardakian with the demanding task of recruiting players from both inside the country and the diaspora, putting together a roster and building the team that will take to the floor to make history.
"I was named head coach of Armenia on 1st February [but] my participation in the Basketball Federation of Armenia began in 2009," Bardakian told FIBAEurope.com
"I am very grateful and honoured for this position," he added.
"Mr. Bardakian professionally demonstrates high potential and has contributed to the development of Armenian basketball in recent years," the BFA had said in a statement commenting on the appointment.
"The Board hopes that he will unite the best Armenian players, thus ensuring positive results during forthcoming European Championships."
The 41-year-old Bardakian is based in Los Angeles and has worked as an assistant coach in college basketball in the USA.
He was a student manager at the University of Michigan in the 90's when the team reached the NCAA Final Four on two occasions and then worked as an assistant coach at Cleveland State University and Chaffey College.
"The establishment of the men's national basketball team of Armenia is a direct result of the vision and leadership of the President of the Basketball Federation of Armenia, Hrachya Rostomyan," the coach said on the inception of the project.
"Our goal is to identify and develop the top young Armenian basketball players and form a competitive team that will successfully compete year in and year out in FIBA Europe competitions."
Bardakian is placing special importance on the next steps in the process, Armenia's first training camp, which will take place in the country's capital Yerevan in the summer of 2013.
"It is imperative that we have a successful training camp this summer, we will be the youngest participating team in 2014," he said.
There is still a long way to go until the summer of 2014 but in the meantime national pride - and the support of some high-profile Armenians - helps to fuel the motivation of all those involved in the project.
"While our participation alone in 2014 will be a historic moment for the sport of basketball in Armenia, we want to be competitive from the outset and represent Armenia with honour," Bardakian said.
"Basketball has a special place in the heart of the Armenian people.
"We have received tremendous support from our fans in Armenia and outside of Armenia.
"One of our biggest fans is boxing champion Vanes Martirosyan."