Standing proudly in northeast Yerevan is an institution which aptly demonstrates what can be achieved through the power of collaboration.
Armenia's national teams technical centre and football academy was the flagship project of a wider strategy aimed at raising standards of the game in the country. The Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) started construction of the pioneering centre in 2006. With the help of UEFA's HatTrick programme and the Armenian government, the facility was completed in April 2013 – and it has not taken long to prove its worth.
According to the FFA general secretary, Armen Minasyan, the national technical centre has already "played a great part in the development of Armenian football". "All the football activities now happen in one place," he adds. "The players now have all the modern conditions to practise, and this can be seen if you look at the results of our national team. We can't even compare them to the ones we had previously."
The centre certainly caters for every need: set in a 15 hectare plot donated by the Armenian government there are ten grass pitches, one artificial pitch, a 1,500-seat stadium, an international standard indoor football hall with a capacity of 500, open air and covered swimming pools, a rehabilitation centre and changing rooms.
Then there is the academy building and technical centre for the national teams, also on the same site. This complex includes a hotel which sleeps 100 people, a restaurant, classrooms, library, meeting and analysis room plus modern fitness centres. The academy serves the surrounding districts of Yerevan with more than 600 children of various age groups training there, and regular grassroots events and tournaments taking place on site.
As planned, it has become a hub for all the national teams, as Mr Minasyan explains: "The senior team practises here, as well as playing friendlies, while the Under-17 and Under-19 squads play mini-tournament matches at the stadium." It offers a place for women's football and futsal to flourish, and offers other benefits that really set it apart when compared with Armenia's previous facilities. "The academy hosts different training sessions, lessons and workshops," the general secretary adds. "We also educate new coaches, referees and other sporting personnel, while injured players start their rehabilitation – all here."
With the project proving a success, the FFA has already moved to further its strategy of improving the sport's infrastructure in Armenia. As mentioned, the Yerevan national centre was given financial backing by the UEFA HatTrick programme (phases I and II), and phase III has contributed to the new youth football academy opening in Armenia's second city, Gyumri. That will open this spring, and Mr Minasyan adds that: "at the same time we will start building a similar centre in Vanadzor".
"An essential part of developing football in Armenia," the UEFA HatTrick programme has helped pushed on the game in the country, Mr Minasyan says … and the FFA has not finished yet. "
We fully understand that football can bring joy to people and we will do everything to make the future bright," he says. "Youth academies and venues where you can practice in great conditions will help us find talented players, which our country will be proud of."
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