As he is welcomed onto the Club’s Board of Directors, Sahara UK’s Meg Gurung has urged Aldershot’s Nepalese community to join him in supporting The Shots during an exciting new season.
The appointment follows the organisation’s purchase of £10,000 of Club shares last month, and Meg (pictured above with John Leppard) says: “It’s a great privilege for me to join the Board of Directors. I am excited by what I am seeing at the Club and it is up to people like myself to ensure that the whole community understands what is happening here. I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen of Barry (Smith) so far and I have high hopes for the season.”
Gurung, who enjoyed 19 years of service in the Gurkha Regiment with postings in Hong Kong and Brunei as well as Aldershot and admits “I now consider myself a local lad”, recognises the importance of football to children of all nationalities, but particularly Nepalese growing up in Rushmoor.
“It is important that we look forward, for the younger generation, who have been brought up here,” he explains. “We need to make them feel much more at home, and ensure that Aldershot Town is their football club of choice. Football is a way of life around the world, and Premier League clubs are very well known in Nepal – most there might be supporting the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas, but hopefully the younger generations here will be supporting their own local Club.”
Meg’s family settled in Aldershot upon his retirement from the Gurkhas in 1999, a move which came easily to him and continues to show the way for his countrymen. “It was only natural that I came back to the UK and the place I was most familiar with. I wanted a better life for my children, with good education and prospects, so we chose Aldershot,” he continues, before echoing his colleague Min Gurung’s desire for greater integration into society. “Now I want to make a difference to this town so that our future generations have a much better quality of life. Aldershot Town is a community-based Club and football is such a universal language that we have easily found a strong affinity. It feels like a natural link for us.”
Meg’s vision, though, stretches far beyond the confines of Sahara UK and he reiterates the galvanising effect a successful football team can have on its town. “I will do whatever I can to ensure that the Club becomes the hub of not just the Nepalese community but every community in this area. With the redevelopment happening around Aldershot I can feel the energy in the town, and I feel that Barry is also the man to take our football club to new heights. I’m looking forward to working at Aldershot Town to see how far this Club can go.”
Based in Farnborough, Sahara UK is the sister charity of the Sahara Academy for orphans, based in the Nepal city of Pokhara and with other branches in Norway, Germany and Italy. Initially established as a football club in 1998 – which plays in the Aldershot and District Sunday Football League – Navin Gurung founded Sahara UK after returning to his civil war-ravaged home country and converted Sahara into a charity with the aim of “turning orphans into athletes”. Providing both education and football coaching to disadvantaged Nepalese children, Sahara (which in Nepali means “support”) is Nepal’s most successful charity and has even been praised by the country’s Prime Minister.
“We pride ourselves on being a diverse football club which embraces and galvanises the entire community,” said Chairman Shahid Azeem. “We hope that the appointment of Meg, who was chosen by Sahara UK to represent them on our Board, will help to bring us even closer, especially in the week that we again welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the town and our stadium. Ultimately we are all working towards the same goal, one community and one town, and believe that this is another big step towards achieving that aim.”