A year in the Center of Excellence

The journey started with tears that I could hardly keep to myself (well, I am even crying right now while I am writing this) and which eventually showed their power when the plane took off, making me feel the loneliest and weakest person on earth sitting next to a happy, peaceful Armenian family and thinking why I am doing this.

-Lil, look, if you don’t want to go, it’s ok, we can go back home. But remember that this was your decision and you have worked so hard for this, – my Dad told me right at the airport when I suddenly started crying (out of nowhere) while I was saying goodbye to my Mom, Dad and coach Hayk.

For a moment I wanted to give up the craziest decision I have ever made in my life – moving to Denmark for Badminton. But there was no way back, because I knew I would regret losing the opportunity that came with perfect timing. I mean, I finished my Uni and I had nothing else to do in Armenia except doing master’s and studying more (yes, I am addicted to studying and this is NOT a joke) or working with my profession, which would mean stopping badminton. In addition, I didn’t have sparing partners and professional facilities for trainings in Armenia, so the practices were nothing compared to the ones I  now have in the “Center of Excellence” with players from all over the world.

My parents were so surprised when I told them I want to move to Denmark. I mean, I have always been the shy type, never talking to people, only writing whatever I have ever wanted to tell them and never being brave enough to express my thoughts. At least studying for four years in University helped me a lot to build a confidence to not be afraid to actually speak…

I know it’s normal for you guys (my foreign friends and readers) to move to another country to pursue a sports career or chase a dream (that’s what some of you are doing, right?) but for a small European country like Armenia, where there is still the Soviet mentality dominating and still a bit of different imagination of life exists, a decision like mine is a bit crazy (in a positive way) and unexpected.

In Armenia family and education are two very important concepts in a person’s life. Now most of friends are already working, some are still doing master’s degree (ok, some of them are abroad as well), others are married, some of them already have children … so the life goes like this – kindergarten, school, university, work, family (for some girls it’s family right after school or uni), children. This was all a bit of a boring life for me, so I decided to try something different – chase a dream in another country and represent Armenia all over the world. I am so blessed to have this opportunity which has also helped me learn to always appreciate what I have.

However, as much as I am lucky to live in Denmark, I couldn’t have done that without the support from Badminton Federation of Armenia, my family and the people who were willing to help me achieve my dream. In short, everything had brought me to this moment to finally make a move and travel all alone to the happiest country in the world, 3144 km away from Armenia, to live my dream.   

 CHALLENGES ON THE WAY

One of the biggest challenges for me was cooking. I have always been served the most delicious food at home made by my Granny and Mother. I have never really had time to see and learn how they are cooking because honestly I was too busy studying or training. Everything has always been perfectly ready and available for me back at home, whereas in Denmark I am thinking not only about the trainings but also about what to eat, what to buy from the supermarket, how do I make this, how to cut an avocado, how much carbs do I need, did I eat enough protein…

Talking about trainings, in the beginning I was so bad at everything. I was doing exercises that I saw for the first time, then I gradually learned to do shots that I had no idea they even existed. I opened a completely new page in the book of badminton in my head, trying to grasp as much information as possible. This is a completely new environment with professional players all of them chasing their dreams and knowing exactly what they want to achieve in badminton. Consequently, every practice session is extremely important, you can’t just skip one exercise whenever the coach is not watching or not do your best. It’s all in 100 % in the COE which I like the most. The environment and the team is really motivating.

Another challenge I had to overcome was accepting that I don’t have to study and have to spend some time during the day doing nothing (soon I realized that doing nothing is actually resting and preparing the body for the next session which is extremely important). Honestly, this was harder than cooking 

This will sound weird but in Denmark I learnt to watch movies. I could never sit and watch a movie back home for more than 20 minutes because I was too lazy to watch the result of someone else’s imagination. I’d better read a book and imagine the scenes myself. Yes, I am that weird…

The next challenge is about traveling. I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, I just didn’t want to make a new subtitle writing about all the advantages and all the positive things I implemented into my life in this one year. Yes, traveling is awesome. And yes, traveling for a tournament is much more awesome. I used to play 2-3 international tournaments a year and now I play almost every month. I find myself in a different country every month and honestly sometimes I forget where I am.

I also have the pleasure to work in Badminton Europe as a journalist, which is my profession. I was so afraid I would have to give up all the hard work I had been doing at Uni and stop writing. However having that job, also writing a blog in English and Armenian (www.lilpoghosyan.wordpress.com) is a perfect fit to my full-time professional athlete’s schedule. 

The greatest challenge that is possible to overcome only twice a year is missing home. By home I mean my beloved people, the places, the streets of Yerevan and the environment of a country that has expensive plane tickets, at the same time – a country that is worth visiting.

 All of the challenges are part of the story, nobody said it would be easy, it’s just that I know for sure that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (Chinese proverb). I am happy I made that step and I know that the girl who used to cry after every session because there was nobody to practice with is now living her dream and working towards goals she never knew could ever become one.

p.s. after all of this bullshit, now I can FINALLY write the reason of this blog post:

Today, I am living my dream for exactly one year! 🙂

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