YEREVAN — Early in the morning of June 2, Nareh Galstyan, a teenager from Lernagog, was getting ready for a COAF-organized tour of the Yerevan-based Football Academy of Armenia. She could never imagine it would be not only an excursion or sports event, but a surprise meeting with her idol of 8 years…

Ten boys and girls from seven COAF beneficiary villages, aged 12 to 16, were given a wonderful chance to meet world-famous Manchester United Midfielder and Armenian National Team Captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan and talk to him about sports, education, leadership, dreams and goals.

“You might face many difficulties in life but you should never give up… You should set your goals and try to achieve them one by one,” the 28-year-old soccer legend told his fans. “There are no lucky or unlucky people – everyone gets the same opportunities but not everyone takes advantage of them.”

The kids were overwhelmed with emotions but managed to overcome their shyness by asking questions about the secrets of success, the downsides of being famous, the talismans that soccer players use.

“I am not superstitious, so I don’t use any talismans,” Mkhitaryan laughed. “There are no secrets – if you prepare well and do your job well, you’ll succeed. Otherwise, no talisman will help you. As for being famous, the only downside is that you might want more privacy at times. Actually, it’s very pleasant when people recognize you and appreciate your work. But you can achieve this only through talent and hard work.”

After the talk, the kids had more fun moments with Mkhitaryan, while he acted as a goalkeeper, trying to save the teenagers’ spot kicks…

“I could never imagine my ultimate wish would come true,” Nareh Galstyan said. “I had been dreaming of this meeting for ages, and now it became a reality.”

Emin Muradyan, a boy with cerebral palsy who wants to become a sports commentator, said it was one of the happiest days of his life. “I was constantly checking if everything was real,” he laughed.
At the end, Mkhitaryan urged the children to never underestimate their potential and to try to bring positive change to their communities. “It’s a very exciting time – Armenia is rising and I’m proud to be COAF’s International Friend,” he said. And COAF is proud to have organized such a wonderful meeting and excited that it will mark the start of collaboration between the famous soccer star and COAF in the future!

Children of Armenia Fund works to secure a future for children in rural villages through improved education, healthcare, community life and economic conditions. All COAF programs sustain and create opportunities for growth and progress. To date, COAF has helped over 67,000 children and their families in over 44 villages. www.coafkids.org

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