Football — The Gurkha Cup

The Gurkha Cup annual football tournament commenced in 2000 (further details below) and constitutes one of the most important annual events in the UK Nepali social calendar almost rivalling the annual Nepali Mela (held at Kempton Park racecourse) and the Lord Buddha’s birthday – Buddha Jayanti (held annually in Trafalgar Square, central London) – that like the annual Nepali Mela, is facilitated by the Embassy of Nepal.  Some 10,000 – 12,000+ Nepali community members come to Aldershot’s Queens Avenue, Aldershot for the annual Gurkha Cup tournament finale. 

The Gurkha Cup tournament (facilitated by the Tamu Dhee Association UK) is football focused, but at a UK Nepali community level, an unequalled largest scale social Nepali culture celebrating event.  It is best described as embodying at a national level the finest characteristics of a late 19th to early 20th centuries English County Fayre in many of its dimensions and attributes beyond the actual football pitch grand finale and related exceptional cultural arts performances and world famous Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas musical performance, dimensions.  Major (retired) Krishna Gurung (pictured left) was the lead founder of the Gurkha Cup, and explained to the UKNFS, for the information resource project, that a core reason for the Cup’s creation was to draw some in Nepali youth in the UK, away from some of the types of bad path behaviour that exists in some elements of British youth, such as excess drinking, drugs, and not being a good citizen & community member.

Foods sold, mo.mo snacks, Nepali Dal-Bhat, Nepali pakaudas, Nepali jewellery sold, groceries, Nepali clothes of functional and formal kinds (topis [the hats worn my Nepali men], sarees, daura surawal, etc.), interactions with many different businesses stalls beyond these selling services of importance to community members by UK Nepali businesses, but also features martial art displays, impromptu and formally included in the main programme of the event, Nepali folk dance, and even Paint Ball!

Beyond such food, business and recreational & fun dimensions and interactions, the main purpose and feature of at community [non-sports] level, the social reunions of family members branches in the UK and of friends [‘sathiharu’] for important once in a year direct precious and long looked forward to interactions.  This constitutes the main context for this unparalleled once a year major social – as well as cultural and sports – event in our annual UK Nepali calendar: friends and family members reunited in ways that in fact replicate such major focal social [family and friends] reunions enabling national and regional festival events in Nepal itself.

The UKNFS has been honoured to have a VIP guests presence across the 2017 – 2019 period at the Gurkha Cup annual tournament.  Our organisation was very pleased to enable through the contact to us of Mr Kevin Coleman (England FA Equality Manager) on his suggestion that could it be welcome for the FA Cup trophy to be presented at the Gurkha Cup Tournament [2018] for all attending to see and have the opportunity to have photos with the fabled Cup? 

Of course we/the UKNFS replied ‘Yes’ and that the presence of the cup trophy at the Gurkha Cup was a great honour, and, even more importantly, that the Nepali football phenomenon in turn – through firstly the British Army context Nepal Cup, and, subsequently, beyond the army, the exceptional phenomenon of the Gurkha Cup (that see’s some 10 to 12 thousand participants annually attend its Final) and joined to this our relationship with England FA, in securing for two [hopefully more, post-Covid 19 crisis] successive years, the presence of the FA Cup trophy itself at the Gurkha Cup tournament (held annually at the Recreation Ground, Queens Avenue, Aldershot).

In this a truly unique opportunity for the England derived sport of football be joined to that of the Gurkha/Nepali football phenomenon to inspire and educate people in the UK and across the world, whose hearts are touched deeply by the ‘beautiful game’ as not only Sport, but as a powerful, uniquely powerful activity to unite all humanity, including to against the stupidity of prejudice of racial and all kinds, not least through the illustrious role of the Gurkhas [Nepalis] in British army, and ultimately through their special role in the latter, British history itself. 

The South Asia Time (SAT) online article below gives context to the unique UK Nepali community and UK land of settlement context to the outstanding event that the Gurkha Cup comprises – the SAT news article also provides origin and background detail to the Gurkha Cup itself and its trophy [Cup}:

The 17th grand episode of the Gurkha cup is going to held on 26 May 2019 at Queens Avenue, Aldershot, GU11 2LE.

Gurkha Cup is one of the biggest events organized by a Nepalese community in United Kingdom where youth from not only UK but also from European country like Portugal, Belgium and Germany traveled to the fields at Queens Avenue for the Tournament.

This event is organized annually by Tamu Dhee UK, One of the biggest and dynamic Nepalese community in the UK.

The organizing committee has announced the key dates for booking the stall and the entry for the participants. The stall booking from the program is opened from  18th of March and will be closed on the 18th of May. Similarly, the interested team can start their registration from 18th of March and the last date of the entry is said to be 18th of May 2019.  All the bookings and team registration can be done from the website of the program www.gurkhacupuk.com

Gurkha Cup, it was established in the year 2000.  The cup itself was presented by the King of Greece in the year 2000. Since then the popularity of Gurkha Cup is growing strength to strength among all Nepalese Community not only in the UK but the charm and popularity is growing in other European countries as well.  This is now the biggest, the most popular and the most prestigious event that we organize in comparison to other events that is organized by different Nepalese organization.

Gurkha Cup Event is itself a unique day, it not only shows the football tournament but is also combined with various kind of stalls and displays i.e free-fall parachute display, Brigade of Gurkha Band display, Cultural dance, Tai-Kwon-do display and many more.  As a whole, it is a nice family day out to meet and greet friends and family and to spread your networking.  Army and local Police also feel proud to get involved in Gurkha Cup by putting some of their Recruiting Stalls and providing Referees for the day. Hampshire Police will be performing a dance program this year.

About 50 teams participate in this nine-a-side Gurkha Cup tournament to lift the much-coveted Gurkha Cup trophy and the tournament gets more competitive each year.  The tournament provides a platform for teams to display their skills, teamwork and sportsmanship; whilst on the other hand; it provides a great family day out to spectators in a secure environment to meet and greet both old and new friends and families as well as to enjoy watching competitive football matches. The Rushmoor Borough Council has recognised this prestigious tournament and is included in their annual calendar.

Attractions:

Display of FA Cup
Spectacle of top quality football competition
Various mouth-watering food restaurants,
Art and craft stall
Saree Shops
Breath-taking Parachute Display
Martial Art Display
Nepali folk dance
Paint Ball

Source: https://www.southasiatime.com/2019/03/23/team-entry-registration-and-stall-booking-is-opened-for-17th-gurkha-cup-2019-one-of-the-biggest-event-of-nepalese-community-in-uk/

An exceptional centenary:

The year 1921 saw the introduction of the sport of football to and in Nepal by the British, making in 2021 one hundred years that the game has been played there through the cultural level special people to people level friendship between the two countries.  Although a planned two-leg friendly international match between Nepal’s national team, and England C Team was due to start with the first, England leg, match being played at Aldershot on 25th May 2020, has been postponed due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, it is certain that in or around the time of the centenary of football in Nepal, that a friendly international or comparable Nepal – Britain celebration will take place within the next 18 months.

 In the course of this resource creation (summer 2020) at a number of UK Nepali-Gurkha community locations across the UK upsurges of Covid 19 pretext Anti-Asian (including especially retired Gurkhas) racism.  Through the UKNFS an educational initiative that has been welcomed and be assisted by England FA, to counteract such behaviour through sharing the Nepali-Gurkha football phenomenon is to be commenced and facilitated by the UKNFS (that flagged up this potential project two years earlier through its role in negotiating with the FA on behalf of Sahara UK, with the FA), with core elements drawn from this information resource.  This will coincide with the centenary mentioned above.  Earlier in 2020 an FA team lead by Mr Laurence Jones visited ANFA in Kathmandu to celebrate the friendly international match initiative and on a mutual learning basis (image above)

Gurkha Cup – Tamu Dhee:  http://gurkhacupuk.com/about-us/

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