Aldershot Town FC stand beside our Nepalese friends, both in the UK and in Nepal, where the loss of life and devastation of a beautiful country are reaching unimaginable levels.
The Club is working on a fundraising initiative with Rushmoor-based Nepalese charity Sahara UK, and their President Dilip Gurung, plus Aldershot’s Buddhist Community Centre and its Chairman, Kaji Sherpa, the details of which will be finalised as soon as possible. Foremost in the Club’s thoughts is the need to ensure that all money raised goes directly to help those affected by Saturday’s earthquake.
Chairman Shahid Azeem has first-hand experience of a similar tragedy, having co-ordinated fundraising activities in South East England for his birth place of Pakistan in the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 2005, which killed over 86,000 people and left almost 3 million homeless.
Aldershot Town’s links with Nepal were strengthened in February, when The Shots’ Academy side competed in the Aaha! RARA! Gold Cup and witnessed the natural beauty, extreme poverty and humility which characterises the country. Players and officials received a warm welcome wherever they went, including remote mountain regions which struggle to maintain running water and rely on fire as their main source of energy.
Director John Leppard, who joined the team in Pokhara, said: “Our two weeks in Nepal was a great experience, and showed us all what an inspiring, friendly and beautiful country it is. The people are ready to greet outsiders like old friends, and to be invited so warmly into people’s homes and schools was really humbling. In many cases they seem to have nothing but are prepared to give everything.
Head of Media, Steve Gibbs, continued: “The simplicity of life in many areas of Nepal is quite incredible. Even parts of Kathmandu are ramshackle shanty towns. It’s still developing and under-developed, trying to modernise without losing its heritage, but it is also a very proud city. In many ways it’s a typical inner-city like so many around the world – crowded, dusty, chaotic and full of bad driving – but not everywhere do you see lorries having to give way to cows as they wander down the middle of a busy dual carriageway!”
Head of Youth, Kevin Knights, remembered: “Everybody seems so relaxed and laid-back. It was fascinating to see such a different way of life and how entire families worked together on farmland or in little shops that appeared randomly on the side of mountain roads. We saw many of the areas affected by the earthquake and to think that so many people have lost everything, and that the country has lost so much of its history underneath the rubble, is horrible.”
Whilst Sahara UK has made a financial commitment to Aldershot Town FC, through the purchase of shares in the Club and the potential appointment of a representative to the Board of Directors, it is not appropriate to formally announce this agreement whilst the Club and the Nepalese community focus on the current situation in Nepal, which effects all concerned.