Her childhood was inextricably tied to football, but back then she was too young to know what football was, and certainly could not have imagined that eventually it would become an important part of her life. When she grew up, she even chose another professional path. Providence, though, has its own philosophy.
As a girl, she didn’t realize that her prominent father had won the respect of hundreds of thousands of people, and that her surname would resonate around the world her whole life.
When her father passed away, she was faced with the fact that her surname, despite being difficult to pronounce in almost all languages, even in Armenian, was uttered with praise and gratitude by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world for the ability to create uniquely evocative feelings. For millions of Armenians, it is a symbol of pride, an identification code, because her younger brother sought and found…her father.
She might have lived quietly in the shadow of her surname, but she was steadfastly determined to follow her path, step by step overcoming the hardships on the way on her own, away from her family and relatives. She also had a duty - her own journey to seek and find her father.
Monika Mkhitaryan is the daughter of the legendary armenian footballer Hamlet Mkhitaryan and the sister of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, one of the most famous Armenians in the world.
Monika has never spoken about herself publically. Her story has remained intensely personal, not for public consumption. This exclusive interview with “The Armenians” Mediaplatphorm (thearmenians.am ) is the first one.
Frankly speaking, it was fifteen years ago when I first wanted to tell the story of this deeply courageous woman who did not give up on her dreams despite the pitfalls and obstacles. For me at that time, Monika was simply the daughter of my good friend Marina Tashchyan, from the family of the Mkhitaryans. It didn’t happen then, but today when this conversation took place after years of friendship, I realized that my inclinations all those years ago were sound.
It goes without saying that we could not but start our conversation from “the path”…
- Can you please tell us more about your path, you were studying at the Yerevan State University…
- Indeed I have been graduated from the faculty of International Relations at Yerevan State University. While I was invited to a friends’ wedding in Lyon, France, I passed by the University Lumière to learn on the application process for the Masters in Political Sciences. I got lucky cause I met with the responsible of the faculty and we exchanged. I then applied and got a positive answer. I was very happy, cause while in Armenia, my mind was still driving me back to the country where I spent my childhood. I had the feeling I still had to achieve what remained unfinished.
- What have you learned from this path, what did it give to you?
- The road to my professional career wasn’t easy. I have worked hard at school and University, I was kind of a “workoholic” (smile). My family would even tell me to relax sometimes. I believe nothing is easily achievable in this life, however nothing is impossible to achieve should you wish much and work hard for it. But sometimes you also need a bit of luck. I have been lucky as there were people who helped me throughout my path.
- You have studied in Armenia and France. What kind of impressions you had from the students, the scholar system?
- The education programmes differ in Armenia and France.While I gained more factual knowledge from Armenia’s system, I developed my analytical skills while studying in France. I believe a good mix between both skills is necessary.
- Have you been attracted by France because of your childhood memories or…?
- Indeed, my childhood was calling me back to France….you know I have very sweet memories from the time I spent there with my family, my father…it is an unforgettable page in my life’s book.
- What were the best memories of your childhood?
- I had a happy childhood, I am thankful to my parents. A crucial part of my memories was football, as we were closely attached to my father and would attend all his games since early ages. Funny enough, the topic hasn’t changed today in my life.
- Was there anything that was crucial in your life?
- I will tell you something very funny, as I person, I like dreaming, but more funny - I believe I can fulfil my dreams. I think it is important to believe you can achieve things and the biggest ideas are those that people laugh on at first stance. I think the crucial starting point in my career was my internship at UEFA which opened me doors to internal football.
- Was the decision to go into football a subconscious or deliberate choice?
- It was a very natural choice for me…you know all my family’s drive is my late father and it was a way to keep him alive around us. Football is a second religion in our family. It has something special and I love it. At home I watch football, as I would listen to music.
- What does it mean for a young woman to be far from her family, her country, but succeed? What is needed for that?
- You know, we live in modern times and my family would never block my progress by personal egoism to keep me next to them. In the actual geopolitical transformation of the world, the movements aren’t surprising anymore. Another matter is that our country must find a way to retain the best young talents. But to evolve in a foreign country is much harder than in yours…you should have character, determination and ambitions to succeed.
- You have had a very interesting path working for a long time along the number one football leader in Europe. Can you tell us more how you felt about it?
- The experience with one of the greatest footballers of all times was and I am sure - will remain one of the unique ones in my life. I am very thankful to Michel Platini, because he gave me the opportunity to evolve in his team.
- Is it difficult today to be the sister of a world known football player?
- It is always pleasant when people recognize your family name and speak about your brother. He is our pride as a person and a professional.
- Can you describe Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
- While he is a role model off the pitch and gentle person, there is no mercy on the pitch. I use to call him the “silent assassin”, he always has a killing pass or shot on target. For me - he is my young brother with whom I can be crazy and have fun. He is my best friend.
- How would you describe yourself ? Who is Monika Mkhitaryan?
- That’s the most difficult question (smile)… professionally speaking, I am very ambitious and result driven, I love to see the outcome of my efforts. In private life, I am very family-orientated, family is everything in my life.
- How often do you gather with family and where do you usually meet, in Yerevan, Geneva or Manchester?
- We try to see each other as much as we can. We mostly meet in Manchester, as Henrikh cant travel elsewhere. It is always a moment of joy and interesting exchanges.
- What do you appreciate most in a person? How shall a person be according to you?
- You know I strongly believe that every person has unique talent in himself and every person is interesting in its own way. I really enjoy exchanging with people and learning different experiences. For my country, I can say, that we have a talented young generation and we have to help them succeed in life.
- What are the 5 rules of your life?
- Be gentle and never judge people, be open but cautious from people, be well prepared and anticipate things, be determined and ambitious, just do it.
- What projects you have for the future?
- So far I am happy at UEFA, I have been trusted a new project to support our National Associations in strategic communications. For the future – and if one day I were to leave UEFA - I would love to supportfootball players in their career.
- If you were to live again your life, would you choose the same path?
- Difficult to answer, I really don’t know….I am happy with my achievements, but I am determined to achieve more.
By Arayik Manukyan & Sona Mirzoyan / thearmenians.am