Rio Ferdinand has linked up with the Jockey Club through his youth charity, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.
The former Manchester United and England defender said racing had plenty to offer “both as a career path and a sport”, with the aim of the collaboration being to help young people from some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities learn more about the sport as a pastime and an industry they can work in.
Initially educating groups of 16 to 24 year olds about the sport through visits, open days and a number of sessions with its employees, the Jockey Club – which operates tracks including Cheltenham, Epsom, Aintree and Newmarket – will also showcase the wide variety of employment which horse racing offers, from sales and IT through to turf management and operational roles.
The partnership will be integral to the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s #NotBoxed campaign, which features a number of events and opportunities to drive new investment and support from business and government, other decision-makers and people in power and includes industries ranging from construction and sport to music and entertainment.
Ferdinand said: “I’m really excited that we’re going to be working with the Jockey Club to demonstrate to so many young people everything horse racing has to offer, both as a career path and a sport.
“Ten years ago we set up the Rio Ferdinand Foundation with the aim of supporting and empowering 16 to 24 year olds from some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, whilst also tackling racism and inequality head on.
“Ever since then we’ve helped thousands of young people through education and employment, opening their eyes to the opportunities that are out there and helping them make the most of the skills and talent they have.
“Day in, day out we work with community centres, education providers and a whole host of industries with the goal of helping young people realise their true potential and it’s fantastic that we’re now able to do the same in horse racing through this collaboration with the Jockey Club.”
Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale said: “We want young people and people from all backgrounds to look on horse racing as a sport and an industry which is full of opportunities for them.
“By working with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation we aim to introduce racing to a group of young people who have never previously considered it as a pastime or an industry to work in. My colleagues across the Jockey Club come from a significant range of backgrounds and this initiative will help highlight that it’s not essential to want to work directly with animals or to have a racing background to have a career in the sport.
“We’re just as passionate about the work the Rio Ferdinand Foundation is doing in the community as those who have helped make it the huge success it is today and we can’t wait for this partnership to get started.”