My name is Garen Spendjian and I am one of the co-founders of Hoops4Haystan. My father is a proud Armenian from Cairo, Egypt and my mother is a proud Armenian from Baghdad, Iraq but at the end of the day our roots always point back to home - Armenia.
I was fortunate enough to grow up around the Armenian culture, whether it was speaking Armenian, eating our amazing food or even getting to visit the homeland and see family. Another example was being involved in the Armenian Churches Sports Association as a kid, playing for Holy Martyrs with my fellow Armenian brothers. This is where I fell in love with the game.
My passion is basketball and giving back, and I owe it all to my nationality. When I was in Armenia with Matthew, we noticed the beautiful youth and how engaged and interested they were with us but most importantly the game. Armenia dominates in sports such as wresting or weightlifting which are individual sports. Our main focus as a country in regards to a team sport is soccer. Our question was....why not basketball?
We noticed there aren’t many outdoor parks or even indoor gyms kids have the luxury of playing at which already doesn’t give them the same opportunity we had growing up here. On top of that, many of them weren’t properly geared up for any type of sport. We decided to make it our mission to help give back and try to give our FUTURE the same opportunities we had in the past!
In the Summer of 2015, I was contacted to play basketball in the Pan Armenian Games. This was my first major Armenian event; one that introduced me to the country where my family was from. This lead to the opportunity to represent Armenia on a global stage, the U20 Armenia National Team. I did not realize how strong the Armenian culture is until I put that jersey on, which made me feel blessed to be a part of it.
After spending time in Armenia as a member of the National team, I felt a responsibility to give back. What better way than to give the children of Armenia the chance to learn and play the game of basketball; an opportunity I was given at the age of five and helped me become the man I am today.