Mayor humiliated after missing football pass

THE MAYOR of St Albans can’t bend it like Beckham, but she now has the dubious honour of sharing something else with England’s icon.

Like David Beckham, remembered for several fumbles including missing a penalty in England’s Euro 2004 shoot-out defeat by Portugal, St Albans district councillor Aislinn Lee has ended up making headlines in the national press after missing a shot.

The Sun claimed Cllr Lee ended St Columba’s College’s attempt at breaking the Guinness world record for the most consecutive football passes last Wednesday, March 15.

The story added that while boys on crutches managed to make the shot, Cllr Lee’s attempt resulted in the ball travelling less than half the 11 metres required.

But luckily for the Mayor, who readily admits she has two left feet, her blunder did not matter because the school successfully broke the record.

Supported by Arsenal strikers Marouane Chamakh and Ju Young Park, students and staff beat the decade-old record, reaching 632 consecutive passes in the bid last Wednesday, March 15.

To better the title-holders, a youth football team in Hong Kong, players had to kick the ball more than 580 times, with no participant kicking the ball more than once.

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Once the record was reached and beaten by 80 passes, members of the audience were offered the chance to continue informally. Cllr Lee tried to kick the 640th shot, but missed it.

The Mayor good-naturedly took the miss in her stride, saying: “I can’t kick a ball – I had high-heel boots on. But even if I had Wayne Rooney’s boots on, and his feet inside them, I still would have fluffed it.

“I was embarrassed but it was a laugh. I was mortified to see it written about in a national paper, because they missed the point of the story, and the magnificent effort by the boys.”

St Columba’s assistant deputy head for pastoral matters Steve Jones also paid tribute to those involved in the challenge.

He said: “We stopped counting at 632 passes because we were running out of people. It couldn’t have ended better than having the Mayor ending it with a kick. People cheered for her.”

Pupils spent months training for the world record attempt, which is now being verified, with many nervous they would miss a kick.

Their success brought an emotional response from 18-year-old Kenyan national karate champion Abdi Dima, who is visiting the UK and watched the bid.

The challenge doubled as a fundraiser for a project to support young people living in a slum in Kenya, with �25,000 donated so far.

Mr Jones said: “Abdi was crying at the end, he was in floods of tears, he was so moved that so many people cared enough about where he lived to organise this for him.”

Abdi said: “It’s my first time out of Kenya and I can’t believe I’m here with my new friends and these famous sporting stars and we’ve broken a world record. And also I know how much of a difference the money they raised today will help so many young people like myself.”