Local students break passing world record
Park and Chamakh visit St Columba's School
Students and staff at St Columba's College, St. Albans, broke the Guinness World Record on March 14, 2012 for the most football passes, setting a new record (subject to adjudication) of 580 consecutive passes between different players.
They achieved the feat following a visit to the school by Marouane Chamakh and Ju Young Park who featured in Arsenal's reserve match against West Bromwich Albion later on in the day. The students were also watched by former World Boxing Champion Steve Collins, as well as the Mayor of St Albans. The challenge kicked off at 1pm and ended at 2.45pm. Besides earning their place in the record books, the school is working towards an ambitious fundraising target as part of the challenge to support young people in Kenya.
The Arsenal strikers took part in a warm-up session with the schoolboys after hearing about the world record attempt. They both wished the school good luck during the school assembly and donated a signed shirt to be auctioned for the fundraising effort.
The fundraising challenge comes on the back of a visit by two students from St Columba's who travelled to Kenya last summer with the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, where they visited Korogocho, one of the largest slums in the country. Emet Halkin from Enfield and Theo Spyrides, both aged 16, visited the St John Sport Society, the charity's funded project that brings together children and young people living in the slum, providing them with vital access to sports lessons, clubs and other activities, and offers thousands of young Kenyans a lifeline out of violence and poverty.
One of the young people they befriended on their trip - 18 year old Kenyan national karate champion Abdi Dima - came over to St Albans to speak to St Columba's students at their assembly and joined the students as they smashed the World Record on the school playing fields in the afternoon.
Emet said: "It's fantastic to break the record, and even better to raise so much money to help buy a new gym for the St John's Sports Society. The trip really changed my life. I couldn't believe the conditions people are forced to live in. The St John's Society in the middle of the slum is like an oasis in comparison, and it's a great use of the money we've helped raise for CAFOD. The young people that go there are just amazing - open, welcoming and dedicated to their chosen sport. All the older ones spend time training the younger ones. When we got back and told our story to other students and parents they wanted to do more and so the idea for this World Record attempt came about. It's been a real team effort and we're so proud today."
Abdi said: "It's my first time outside Kenya and I can't believe I'm here with my new friends and these famous sporting stars, and that we've managed to break a world record. I know how much of a difference the money that has been raised today will mean to many young people like myself, and it is really good to know that our brothers and sisters here in Britain would make such a massive effort on behalf of our community."
St Columba's Deputy Headteacher, Steve Jones, who accompanied the boys to Kenya said: "Given that London is soon to host the Olympics, we wanted to look at the relationship between sport and poverty relief. We met many young people in Korogocho whose lives have been turned around through sport, and given new hope. Some of these young people are even representing Kenya in various sports at the Olympic Games. I'm so proud of Theo and Emet and the whole school for being behind this record attempt and really going all out to help others. I'm so proud of their achievement in breaking the record, and how we've all worked together so well."
To top the existing World Record, the school had to pass the ball more than 580 times between players, with no player passing the ball more than once. The whole student body was involved in today's record-breaking effort along with their teachers. The World Record was previously held by a football camp in Hong Kong.
Pictures by Shea Bradley CAFOD