Marcus Rashford: Star On and Off the Pitch 

I have talked about Marcus Rashford on this blog before, in my article The Importance of Players like Saka, Rashford, and Sancho. But for his recent 24th birthday, I wanted to write a blog highlighting what a remarkable and selfless person he is off the pitch. 

 

Image Provided by New Statesman

Marcus Rashford was born on October 31st, 1997 in Manchester. His love for football started at a young age, as his two older brothers were also in love with the sport. Rashford fell in love quickly, and his talent grew just as fast. By the age of 6, Marcus was already getting attention from several professional clubs but has been with Manchester United since he was 7 and made his debut on February 24th, 2016. Since he has been with Man United, he has scored 57 goals with 30 assists in 182 appearances. He is also a member of the England National Team, where he lead the club to the UEFA 2020 Finals, but being a star on the field is only the beginning of the exceptional story of Marcus Rashford. 

Combating Child Poverty

Growing up, it was Marcus, his mom, and his five siblings. Melanie, his mom, worked three jobs when Marcus was younger to try and make ends meet. It was hard on everyone and as a kid, Marcus relied on breakfast clubs, help from neighbors and coaches, and free school lunches. Marcus took his own pain and struggles from his younger years and translated it into something proactive and life-changing.  

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, sporting facilities and events, and schools were all shut down and suspended. Rashford donated $20 million to help raise funds and donate meals for school children in Manchester who would be affected by the government cuts. In June of 2020, an estimated 1.3 million children from low-income houses in England were eligible for free school meals. The government wanted to reverse the decision that they had supported during the first lockdown of the pandemic and cut the free school lunches due to holidays. Rashford, who experienced poverty himself as a child, went head to head with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who threatened to cut spending towards free school lunches and refused to extend free school meals in England throughout the holiday season. After continuous pressure from Rashford, Johnson finally agreed to the extension and now plans to spend over $500 million to combat child poverty.   

Image provided by ITV

Marcus Rashford Book Club 

Marcus has also organized a book club in which he teamed up with the publisher Macmillan Children’s which will donate 50,000 books between 850 different primary schools in both England and Scotland. The Marcus Rashford Book Club is a reader-recommends program created by Marcus, and the goal is to encourage a love of reading in children, who otherwise may not have access to books.  

Marcus discovered reading at the age of 17, and realized that “through books, you can grow yourself in whichever way you want.” He now has his own book out, You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be, which is a book that is aimed to help the reader become the best version of themselves. When he discovered reading, he realized how important and truly transformative reading (for both pleasure and knowledge) is. Marcus believes that children, regardless of income status or background, should have access to books and different resources, he says that if he “shows them something that they can do, something other than being on the streets,” then the possibilities are absolutely endless. 

Image provided by Amazon

In 2020, Marcus was recognized at The Best FIFA Football Awards Ceremony. At the ceremony, he was named the first FIFA Foundation Award recipient for his efforts to combat child poverty. It is hard to not root for a player like Marcus; one who uses his status, platform, and earnings to give back to those who need it, who have been in their shoes. Football gave him the chance to see other cultures and opportunities, but he is aware that not every child has that option. There are not enough words to truly explain the lengths to which Marcus goes in order to give these children better opportunities and futures. He knows these children have voices, but “sometimes they don’t understand how powerful their voices and opinions are” all they need is someone who believes in them, and for a lot of those little boys and girls, Marcus is that person.

At the age of 24, Marcus has and continues to combat child poverty, provide children with the resources to read, donated over $20 million (which is 125% of his personal worth) to charity, and continues to be one of the leading stars in the football world. He is truly only getting started.

Image Provided by METRO
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