More than 7,200 children in Gaza today simultaneously bounced basketballs, putting them on track to set their second world record in as many years, as part of an annual summer sporting event organized by the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees.
Today’s record of 7,203 balls dribbled more than doubles the previous record set in 2007 in the United States, where just over 3,000 balls were bounced.
John Ging, Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), took a cautious approach, noting that a final verdict from the Guinness Book of World Records is expected in the coming days.
“But certainly we know the figures and the chances look good,” he said.
Mr. Ging expressed his gratitude to the children of Gaza, “without whom this could never have happened.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had earlier expressed his support in a video message. “I want to congratulate the children of Gaza for taking part in this great event. You are showing the world that if you are given the opportunity… you can be number one!”
But the area’s young people are not content with smashing one world record this summer.
Later this week, they are expected to set a separate world record for the number of kites flown simultaneously – a record they themselves set during last year’s Summer Games, when nearly 4,000 kites were hoisted in the air.
“Two world records in a week is surely another world record in itself,” Mr. Ging marvelled, calling on children around the world to send their support to their counterparts in Gaza as they gear up to best their performance from last summer.
For the past month, people from all corners of the globe have been invited to express their encouragement and hope on the website www.facebook.com/unrwa.
UNRWA’s Summer Games, now in their fourth year, engage more than a quarter of a million refugee children across Gaza in such activities as sports, arts and crafts, theatre and drama. As the largest recreation programme for Gaza’s children, it is providing 1,200 summer camps for the duration of the Games, which run from 12 June through 5 August this year.