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Rima Grigoryan

Hayk Makiyan

Alex from Artsakh: Eleven Year-Old Dreams of Playing for Armenia’s Football Team

Four days after arriving in Goris from Artsakh, Alex finally found a football field. 

He does not like the grass; it is torn and artificial. The boy’s field in Askeran was natural. After eight days of not playing football, Alex rarely takes his eyes off the ball. He is alone on the field.

Alex played with a team they called “Blockade” in Askeran.  

"Our team was formed during the blockade. We were discussing what name we could use, and our coach suggested the name,” says eleven-year-old Alexander Beglaryan.

Alex’s family arrived in Goris on one of the first buses that left Stepanakert. They don't have any relatives in Armenia and are temporarily living in a Goris hotel while looking for permanent housing.  

"We burned my husband's military record and military uniform, got on the bus, and came here," says Karineh, Alex's mother.

The last game of "Blockade" team was on September 19 in Askeran. Alex remembers that when the shelling started, they were playing football on a local field and huddled in the dressing room. Seeing the shelling was continuing, they found a car and went to local shelter.

"I left my football boots in the dressing room. I left my ball as well. It wasn't like this one. It was bigger and heavier. When I struck it, it flew like a balloon,” says Alex, twirling the orange ball he just bought on his finger.

Most of the families staying at the Goris hotel are from Askeran. Two older brothers, Grigori and Samvel, sister Svetlana, parents and grandmother are also here with Alex. During the 44-day war in 2020, the family was in Armenia, in Armavir’s Doghs village. Now, they are looking for a place to live permanently. Mrs. Beglaryan says she would like to live somewhere with others displaced from Artsakh.

The Beglaryan family didn’t take much with them when they left Artsakh. 

I asked Karineh several times if they took photos or other mementos. She says no. Karineh's mother-in-law, Shoghik, slowly goes to their hotel room and returns with a blue folder. The family gathers to see what’s inside. The folder is full of family photos.  Shoghik doesn’t let the children touch them, saying they’re relics.

59-year-old Mrs. Shoghik worked at Karabakh Telecom for many years and was working there at the time of the shelling on September 19. She found Alex and Svetlana in one of the shelters and took them home.

Alex's biggest regret is not bringing the family dog. He tells about how smart the dog was, how it used to play football, and fetch his slippers.  

"Maybe they've already taken my dog and my football boots as well,” says Alex.

"I would really like to be in our village now, to be at school, but it's not bad here either. I am persuading my mother to move to Yerevan so I can practice football. I will play in the Armenian national team, that is my dream, and I will do everything to achieve it," says Alex.

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