The UKNFS has been working closely with the England FA Equality Manager, Kevin Coleman, and in support with the Head of the National League System of the FA and its Board member who leads on equality, for a number of months and with the support from the FSA’s Anwar Uddin, who links to Kick It Out on diversity and anti-discrimination in football, on a national to county FAs level educational project.
As many reading this news article will be aware the UKNFS enabled successful negotiation at the request of Sahara UK, for the two-leg friendly international football match between the Nepal National Team and England C Team, sadly postponed for the time being because of the Coronavirus pandemic: https://uknfs.org/friendly-international-nepal-england-c-team-uknfs-role-and-support-to-nepal-and-the-fa/.
However, the UKNFS relationship with the FA also has a different, direct dimension, in regard to the interconnection between our Nepali community and football, and this concerned football as a means of bringing people together, as well the sad thread in this country of it sometimes being used by a small minority of ignorant, anti-social hate-filled and prejudiced individuals that inflict racial and other forms of hate on players and ethnic and other minorities .
In early 2019 the UKNFS was contacted by the Swindon Nepali community on the extensive racist ASB it was experiencing from a small number of disaffected local youth. Our intervention was very effective and involved an outreach to Wiltshire FA’s CEO, through an introduction the England FA’s Equality lead, Kevin Coleman made for us: https://uknfs.org/uknfs-support-to-our-swindon-nepali-gurkha-community-in-face-of-experience-of-community-wide-racist-asb-2/
However, early 2020 saw a major increase in anti-Nepali-Gurkha and anti-Asian hate crime incidents linked to the Covid 19 pandemic. This was reported across a number of locations of England where there are Nepali communities, including Kent. In Kent we took further action: https://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/demand-for-action-after-ex-gurkhas-car-torched-226001/
It was by that point realised that the only effective solution to this extensive problem lay in the domain of education, and education resources of the right kind, and subsequently able to be utilised and deployed by strategic Allies. This in turn led to the UKNFS connecting with The Royal British Legion (https://uknfs.org/participation-of-the-uk-nepal-friendship-society-in-the-royal-british-legion-trbl-vj-day-75th-anniversary-commemoration/ ) to collaborate on educational resources and outreach, and at the same time led to development of the football educational project initiative.
About the football and inclusion Gurkha Football phenomenon anti-racism educational project:
This project has its core content derived from and directly linked to the UKNFS UK Nepali community cultural & social heritage project’s extensive football information resource section (launched and released online in February/early March). This contains the first ever, extensive and thematic/structured record of the Nepal – England football story with the Gurkha football phenomenon both inside and outside the British Army at its heart. Please see related update article on the heritage resource: https://uknfs.org/heritage-information-resource-update/
Over a number of months’ the project plan was developed at the request of England FA, who through its Equality lead in particular, provided detailed input and guidance on a number of different areas where it could support (but not directly fund) the project, through a set of reviews of the details, producing a result that the FA team members directly referred to are fully supporting for its implementation stage!
The project though is much more than a one-off, it provides a template for other of our extraordinarily talented bit sadly often targeted by the ignorant, whether through ASB racist hate crime & behaviour.
In this case, the Gurkha/Nepali football phenomenon constitutes creation of a ground-breaking, pioneering model — telling the positive story of love of the Beautiful Game by a community whose origins lie half way around the world, are regarded as ‘more British than the British’ and who have an illustrious place in the British Army and British military and broader history — to counteract racism on and off the football stadium terraces, rather than the negative wearying narrative of hate peddled by the wilfully ignorant.
As a pioneer project on this educational, positive response to counteract racism through knowledge, the initiative provides all of the essentials for subsequent projects to counteract racist hate and ignorance in the context of the Beautiful Game.
As such we have already established – with full supportive awareness of the FA (Wembley) the grounds for a subsequent follow up project on another of our BAME communities; as with the Nepali Gurkhas, directly associated with patriotism and military service-heroism and well recorded prowess.
This concerns our Sikh community (that as with our Nepali Gurkha community has in the Covid 19 impacts era been revealed to be another target , and the lead for this successor is the One Community Hampshire & Dorset (OCHD: www.ochd.org.uk) multicultural organisation, that through its lead is also working closely with the FA in this area.
Please watch this space for more news soon!