Approximately 3,000 serving and retired Gurkhas together with their families and members of the wider public attended the annual Brigade of Gurkhas Bhela which was held on Saturday, 09 July 2016 at Queen’s Avenue in Aldershot.
The Brigade of Gurkhas’ family ethos
This big event saw retired and serving Gurkhas come together and reunite with old friends. Such a variety of Gurkhas from all different Gurkha units, spanning across decades of Brigade history, always makes this event extra special. Smiles broke across the faces of so many, as they recognised a friend or shared a story from their past. It was also the first year that the trainee Gurkhas from Gurkha Company Catterick had attended the Bhela. Smartly dressed and under the ever steady overwatch of their instructors, they enjoyed witnessing the coming together of serving and retired Gurkhas, which no doubt proved educational as they saw first-hand the great sense of community and family spirit that exists within the Brigade of Gurkhas.
The past and present Gurkha units’ flags were held high at the centre of the pitch while various fun fair attractions were set up to entertain the crowd including archery, weapon display stands and many delicious food outlets serving both Nepalese and British cuisine.
Although the weather wasn’t as pleasant as the sunny day that graced the Bhela in 2015, the rain managed to stay away so everyone could enjoy watching the football being played in the Kathmandu and Nepal Cups.
The day began with the veteran’s football match being played for the Kathmandu Cup. The teams from the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) and the Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QGS) were able to make their way to the finals by beating teams from the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) and Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) respectively.
The final two teams took to the field accompanied by the Gulmi Naumati Baja group (typical Nepali Cultural performers) and were then wished good luck by Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell KCB CBE MC. It was a very competitive game with high levels of skills shown from both teams, but in the end RGR were able to make the most of their chances in front of goal. The President of the Gurkha Brigade Association (GBA), Lieutenant General Sir David Bill KCB, presented the teams with their awards.
Kathmandu Cup Final Score: RGR 3 – 0 QGS.
Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Parachute Display Team
There was then an excellent performance from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas before the Royal Logistics Corps’ Silver Stars Parachute Display Team performed a parachute display onto the football pitch. Despite the very windy conditions, all parachutists successfully ‘hit their target’ and landed on the football pitch with the Nepal flag, Union Jack and Brigade of Gurkhas flag tailing the parachutists for all to see. They then presented Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Col James Robinson, with the match ball for the Nepal Cup Final.
This year, the Nepal Cup Final was always going to be extra exciting with an underdog team making it all the way to the final. The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers were to face a team from Gurkha Company Catterick (GCC) from the Infantry Training Centre. The GCC team had done extremely well to reach the final considering their team is just made up from their instructors. The QGE undoubtedly dominated the game leading wave after wave of attack against the goals posts of the GCC. However, time and time again, the defence valiantly held out (it was a great example of offensive and defensive operations!!). The GCC goalkeeper, Cpl Niraj Gurung, put up an inspiring performance and prevented the QGE from scoring until the 88th minute, when LCpl Arpan from the QGE headed the ball into the back of the GCC net to secure a 1-0 victory for the QGE. The QGE’s superior skills and persistence paid off and they were crowned the Nepal Cup Champions 2016. The sportsmanship shown after the game was superb, with the QGE acknowledging that the GCC had put up an excellent display of teamwork and determination.
Nepal Cup Final Score: QGE 1 – 0 GCC.
Winners – Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE)
Runners up – Gurkha Company Catterick (GCC)
Best Player – Cpl Niraj Gurung (GCC)
Top Scorer – LCpl Arpan Gurung (QGE)
After a moment of celebration from QGE, the crowd closed in from the peripheries of the football pitch to watch and dance along to Nepalese artists performing a variety of cultural shows. Col BG also took the opportunity to thank all those who came and made the Brigade Bhela successful. He added that the relationship between the serving and retired personnel was as ever, extremely close and he thanked everyone for their attendance.
It was a great day and HQ Brigade of Gurkhas would like to thank all those who came and made the day so memorable. We urge you to come back next year and to those who couldn’t make it, we hope you will visit next year.
Jai Brigade of Gurkhas!
Below are some photo galleries from the day. Try and spot yourself!
Gallery 1 – The Gurkha community, members of the public and the display stands
Gallery 2 – The Kathmandu Cup
Gallery 4 – The Nepal Cup
Gallery 5 – Cultural Shows
Photo Credits to: LCpl Vishal Gurung, LCpl Bibek Limbu and LCpl Subarna Gurung