Rio Ferdinand reveals Fermanagh connections

RIO Ferdinand has revealed he is part-Fermanagh man, with his wife Kate also having strong connections to the county.

The former Manchester United star and England international was speaking at a cross-border youth event in Sligo last week that brought together young people from across the border counties, including Fermanagh, at the Sligo Rovers’s home turf, The Showgrounds.

Organised by his charity, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, and supported by the International Fund For Ireland (IFI), the ‘Beyond the Ball’ match day was aimed at bringing teenagers together from both sides of the border to promote peace-building and cross-community reconciliation.


Speaking to the Irish Daily Star at the event, Rio revealed not only did his own grandmother hail from Enniskillen, but his wife Kate’s grandmother was also from the Fermanagh county town.

He also revealed he had been offered the chance to play for Ireland while an 18-year-old at West Ham, due to his mother being Irish, but had turned down the chance so he could play for his native England.

Rio said it had been his Irish mother’s influence that led him to get involved in community work.

“That probably plays a big part in why I’m even here today doing this,” Rio said of last week’s event in Sligo.

“My mum was very much about working in the community and helping other people, and being part of that conversation to make sure people feel valued and a part of things.

“So this is definitely an extension of what my mum was doing when I was a kid.”

He added, “Kate’s nan, she’s 80 and she is here with Kate as well and she is from here, she is from Enniskillen as well, so there is a connection.”


Rio said having such a strong local connection had compelled him to also get involved with the cross-border work through his charity.

“I would say that my nan being from here played a part in me wanting to get involved in Ireland. I would say there is definitely an added value of having a connection here,” he said.

Last week’s match day, which was also attended by Westlife’s Shane Filan, was aimed at helping the young people broaden heir horizons and build their confidence and leadership skills to empower community leaders.

The Beyond the Ball programme is funded by the IFI’s Communities in Partnership Programme (CiPP), and is one of the IFI’s most significant funding allocations in recent years with an overall investment of £541,713.

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