Rio Ferdinand has swapped the changing room for the classroom – to help kids improve their maths skills.
BT Sport pundit Ferdinand, 41, is the face of a football-inspired educational campaign to boost confidence with numbers.
He has teamed up with official UEFA Champions League partner Santander, and online educational publisher Twinkl, to launch 'The Numbers Game Champions Challenge Cards'.
The free-to-download football-themed maths videos and maths learning materials reflect the curriculum taught in Britain's classrooms.
Targeting schoolchildren, aged between 5 and 14, the 'challenge cards' will feature 44 of Europe's finest footballers appearing as caricatures and animations in 11 promotional films hosted by the former England captain.
Twinkl houses over 660,000 educational materials for parents, teachers and carers to support the learning of children and young people.
Santander ambassador Ferdinand, who won the UEFA Champions League with Man United, said: "As a dad of three school-aged children, with a son on the way, I'm very passionate about making sure that kids have the best education possible.
"The home-schooling experience during lockdown really opened my eyes to how challenging it can be to get children engaged with their schoolwork, especially maths.
"The beautiful game of football is made up entirely of numbers and has the transformative power to motivate children as much inside the classroom as it can outdoors.
"I'm proud to be representing this campaign and excited about its implementation in schools and homes all over the UK."
The Numbers Game Champions Challenge Cards can be downloaded for free from Twinkl's online educational platform.
Ferdinand's involvement follows research by Santander UK which found modern parents now use football statistics, road signs and shopping trips to improve their children's maths skills.
A study of 1,000 parents and 1,000 children, aged 6-14, found everyday experiences like counting money or certain coloured cars in traffic, as well as sports stats, were among the most popular ways to engage children with numbers.
And 69 per cent said sport, and understanding match and players statistics in particular, was helpful in getting their kids better understand maths.
But 59 per cent of the UK's mums and dads found this subject difficult when they were younger – leading to struggles with financial literacy later in life.
As a result, 79 per cent are using everyday experiences to help their children develop an interest in numbers.
It also emerged that children were found to be twice as likely to be excited or inspired by popular footballers over Isaac Newton.
More than three quarters (78 per cent) of 6-14-year olds said they enjoyed hearing about the numbers in a game such as how far a player has run and how much time is left in the match.
The study also revealed 52 per cent of parents said the mental arithmetic required to follow sports like football and golf has made them more aware of numbers and stats in real life.
And 53 per cent felt the use of influential sporting figures and role models would have intellectually stimulated them during their own time at schoolBecause of this, 62 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, would advocate using sport as a means of understanding maths better.
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The Numbers Game platform was first developed by Santander in 2019, in partnership with the bank's official charity partner, National Numeracy, an independent charity committed to transforming number confidence and competence in adults and children.
As a nationwide, educational, football-themed roadshow, The Numbers Game aimed to help people to enjoy and feel more comfortable working with numbers.
Since then, the roadshow has visited 12 UK cities, engaging over 30,000 people.
Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, said: "It's great to see parents are using everyday activities as a way to boost school aged children's confidence with numbers, particularly when it comes to everyday finances.
"We are determined to tackle financial exclusion so, together with Twinkl and Rio Ferdinand, we're delighted to further evolve our football-themed Numbers Game programme.
"By bringing the excitement of the UEFA Champions League into learning, it ensures children can develop their numeracy skills in a way which is both educational and entertaining."
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