UEFA president Michel Platini met the Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan and the leader of the Football Federation of Armenia (HFF) Ruben Hayrapetyan for talks in Yerevan on Wednesday.
Mr Platini was in the Armenian capital to take part in the official opening of the HFF's national football academy which has been built with UEFA support. He used the occasion to hold discussions with the country's president, Serzh Sargsyan, and his football association counterpart, Ruben Hayrapetyan.
Mr Sargsyan thanked the UEFA president for his ongoing contribution to the game's development in Armenia by admitting him to the Order of Honour, a prestigious national award. The UEFA president had attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the HFF academy and national training centre three years ago, and was delighted to return for the inauguration of the new facility.
"Together we have constructed this academy," Mr Platini said. "I am confident it will benefit young players in Armenia.
I always say it is very important to give youngsters the opportunity to enjoy the game, and today is like a dream come true for a lot of young people here. The practice of UEFA supporting national associations is working and will continue in the future – football development is our common goal," he emphasised.
The football academy can host six team training camps simultaneously, and Armenia's senior national team and Under-21 side had tried out the new complex before their recent qualifying games. "It would have been impossible to build such a complex without UEFA assistance," said Ruben Hayrapetyan. "UEFA funded 62% of the work and that says everything about their attitude to our country. Football people in Armenia want to thank UEFA and Michel Platini for their great help, because this academy will become a base for all Armenia's national teams."
Mr Platini also met the president of the Armenian Olympic Committee, Gagik Tsarukyan, and Yerevan's mayor Gagik Beglaryan, before taking a tour of the training facility. "I can see huge efforts are being made by the HFF," he said. "It is not a question of producing world-class talent here, rather of giving young people an opportunity to enjoy the game. The HFF is dedicated to youth development and I want to underline the hard work of their president."
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