Armenians in Russia
Spending leisure time being engaged in some sports activities, participating in some worthy sports events, is a rare treat for the Armenian sports fans. The national football team’s home matches alone bring together thousands of fans at the stadium. Thus, all fans of regular championships and sports events literally live amidst ‘sport hunger.’
There are no regular tournaments in Armenia, except for a discredited country’s domestic football championship, the matches as part of which are attended by the most loyal fans of those clubs, i.e. the relatives and friends of the performing players, and that’s a best-case scenario.
So, against the background of this very hunger for sports life, it was decided to restore “Urartu basketball club, which had existed back in Soviet times. New ‘Urartu’ ‘flourished’ in Armenia like an oasis in the midst of the arid desert. A few months ago, the club leadership announced about its participation in the Russian Super League-1 championship.
Of course, the amateur-level domestic basketball tournaments are organized in Armenia from time to time, but this time the goal was set to ensure participation in the Russian and professional championship, rather than just in the local tournament.
Basketball sparked a real furor this year. Armenian national basketball team, mostly comprising the mercenaries of Armenian origin, who are playing in foreign clubs, won the 2016 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.
Victory is one thing, but those, in charge of basketball in Armenia, were willing to maintain that arising inspiration, to build further on this success and take part in the European and World Cup qualifiers. “Urartu baseball club, which existed back in Soviet times, was re-created on the basis of the national team with the aim to maintain the team core.
Apart from joy, this initiative also gave rise to concerns that have persisted to this day. One of the problems was the lack of a sport hall that would meet the international standards. So, the club’s administration immediately started working towards it. However, they failed to provide a new sports hall for the first 2 rounds of championship, that were held in Yerevan. Apparently it will be ready for the team’s third home performance.
Another cause for concern is the Russian side’s distrust. The experience of the Kazakh team “Legion, which participated in the Russian Super League last year, proved that the foreign clubs often turn to be the mere ‘bubbles’, that may burst amidst the tournament due to the financial or some other problems.
But, at the same time, many countries are simply unable to set up professional basketball championships with participation of competitive clubs, and Armenia is among them.
Russian basketball fans want the home championship, such as the Super League-1, to be exclusively Russian, referring to the fact that the VTB United League is already available to the foreign clubs.
However, in view of “Urartu’s current financial capabilities, the VTB League seems to be an unattainable goal. Needless to say that “Urartu leadership views it as a possible prospect, a future goal, but it’s obviously too early to think about it now.
In addition, the institutional and referee bias could be displayed at a purely Russian championship. Such case occurred at the very first game, when “Urartu was deprived of its three leading players just a few minutes before the match.
The organizers explained it by the problems with submitting applications for participation of those players. However, the club management found those explanations dubious and unconvincing.
The beginning of the Russian championship was rather hard for the Armenian basketball club. “Urartu was just losing in the first 4 matches, though it was quite close to victory in the first game against “Ryazan.
“Urartu either has to somehow solve all the aforesaid problems, or to ignore them. And in order to perform successfully, it’s high time for the team to brace up and secure the first victory. It needs to perform successfully in 2016/17 Super League-1, since this project is a prerequisite for revival and further development of the Armenian basketball.