The Armenian Youth Association (AYA) (Հայ Երիտասարդաց Ընկերակցութիւն) known as the Antranik Youth Association (in Lebanon) was established in Beirut in 1931. Falling under AGBU’s umbrella, AYA is AGBU’s youth affiliation.
AYA’s main objective is to preserve and promote the Armenian identity and to foster brotherhood and mutual understanding among various Lebanese and Armenian youth associations and groups. To realize these aims, AYA undertakes various athletic, scouting, social, and cultural activities in Beirut, Zahle, Antelias, Sin El Fil, and Bourj Hammoud. Most activities take place in the AGBU Demirdjian Center, in Dbayeh.
Sporting activities have played and still play a central role in the significance of the AYA. In 1955, the “Navasartian” games started in Lebanon. This which was a global sports event, which took place every four years and gathered young athletes from AGBU-AYA youth chapters worldwide. Even now and for several decades, the Antranik athletics, cycling, table tennis, soccer, tennis, chess, taekwondo, football, and basketball teams achieve prestigious results in various tournaments.
Scouting also plays a vital role in AYA activities. It all started in 1936 with the establishment of a scouts group & the scouts marching band in Beirut. The movement quickly expanded to several branches in different parts of Lebanon. Currently, each of the Antranik Zahle, Antranik Sevan, and Antranik Antelias branches has its own troupes of boy scouts and girl guides. The AYA has founded other groups as well, such as the AGBU-AYA University Students’ Committee in 1940 and the Young Professionals Group in 1999. The AGBU-AYA University Students’ Committee brings together university students and carries out different social and educational activities related to the youth. Also, the AGBU-AYA Juniors’ Club, established in 1937, organizes numerous activities, trips and contests for youngsters.
Since the foundation of the AYA, cultural enhancement has been one of its major objectives. The various choir and dance ensembles have been praised for their high quality performances for the past decades. The AYA Dance Ensemble was founded in 1957 and was recently renamed as AYA “ARINE” Dance Group. The Vahram Papazian Theater Group has staged classical and popular plays since 1959, performing spectacular shows in Lebanon, Armenia and several Middle Eastern countries. Furthermore, the Antranik Cultural and Environmental Committee organizes events dedicated to acclaimed scholars, writers, and composers. Promoting the Armenian identity and culture within the Lebanese Armenian community is one of the main missions of AYA. To achieve this, it regularly organizes concerts, exhibitions, and public lectures.
The AYA Central Committee guides, directs, and coordinates the association’s various activities and branches through its Central Office located in AGBU Demirdjian Center. The AYA Central Committee has been chaired by Archbishop Yeghishe Garoyan, Puzant Yeghiayan, Khatcher Kalousdian, Sissag Varjabedian, Dr. Mihran Simonian, Garbis Markarian, and Garo Djeghelian consecutively. Currently, the chairman of the AGBU-AYA Central Committee is Vicken Tchertchian.