Rio Ferdinand meets young basketballers at Plaistow school
PUBLISHED: 17:40 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:51 11 January 2016
He's better known for his skills on a football pitch than a basketball court, but that didn't stop Rio Ferdinand from shooting some hoops at Cumberland School.
The former England defender was in Plaistow today in his role as a BT Sport ambassador, with young basketball players taking part in a coaching session for the cameras.
The youngsters are all part of Greenhouse Sports’ schools intervention project, which sees dedicated coaches use sport as a way to motivate students.
Rio, 37, was full of praise for the scheme, which is being supported by the broadcaster’s charitable initiative The Supporters Club and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“It’s about making sure that they stay involved, that they’ve got a focus, and that they learn not just about sport but things that sport can teach you,” he said.
“It’s great that the coaches are a big part of that and they’re the ones who should take most of the credit because they’re the ones that the kids in the end are inspired by and are guided by.”
Rio added that he had experienced the same benefits of sport growing up as the young basketballers he was training with.
“More than anything it was a focus,” he said.
“I grew up in an area where there was a lot of stuff gong on and if I didn’t have football than I could have got easily dragged in.
“Football kept me on the straight and narrow, I know it’s a cliche but it’s true.”
The special session saw students from five schools across the capital join together for a training session, led by NBA coaches and former WNBA player Allison Feaster.
It came ahead of the NBA’s arrival in London, with Orlando Magic taking on the Toronto Raptors at the O2 on Thursday.
Michael de Giorgio, the CEO of Greenhouse Sports, said:
“We’ve had a very positive response, the schools are very supportive.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to come here, meet young people from other schools and break down barriers, plus have the chance to meet heroes such as Rio and Allison as well.”
n Rio Ferdinand is supporting the partnership between BT Sport’s The Supporters Club and the NBA which alongside the Greenhouse programme supports young people from London’s deprived areas. Watch NBA Global Games London 2016 on Thursday from 7.45pm, exclusively live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Showcase.