Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Aldershot football team helps Nepalese integration

A Hampshire youth worker has started a football team involving Nepalese and British-born players in a bid to promote integration in Aldershot.

Three years ago many Gurkhas were given the right to settle in the UK following a high-profile campaign by actress Joanna Lumley.

Since 2009, many Nepalese families with Gurkha connections have moved to north Hampshire because of its links to the military and its established Nepali community.

Now a tenth of the population of Aldershot and its surrounding area is believed to be made up of Nepalis and the area has become known locally as "Little Nepal".

The influx has caused repeated clashes between locals and newly arrived Nepalese teenagers, according to youth workers.

Last summer, the police set up a dispersal order in Manor Park, which allowed them to move on any groups of youths involved in anti-social behaviour.

Image caption Richard Cooper formed United Rushmoor following clashes in and around Aldershot

Nepalese teenager Bishal Gurung agreed there were problems in the community.

"If the community wants to put their hands out to be friends, we will be the first to put our hands out.

"This is a whole new country for us, and it's not like home.

"To make new friends, this is what we want."

Now youth worker Richard Cooper has started up a football team, called United Rushmoor.

Nepalese and British-born white teenagers came together in mid-January to play their first friendly match in mixed teams.

Further events involving both communities, including cricket, drama and basketball will also be held by the club over the coming months.

Mr Cooper said: "It's been a tough couple of years. The pressure on local resources has been tough whether you are Nepali or non-Nepali, but things have turned around in the last couple of weeks."

Mikka Thakali took part in the football match.

He said: "We play together, Nepali and white people, and we make friendship more so there won't be any trouble in our own town."

A further step towards integration will hopefully be taken this Saturday, when a Best of Both event will take place from midday until 17:00 GMT at the KC21 building in Aldershot.

Traditional food such as curry and momos will be on offer along with music, markets and dancing to showcase positive aspects of Nepali and British culture.

More on United Rushmoor from Inside Out South can be viewed on the BBC iPlayer .

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