February is also known as Black History Month. It’s the best time to commemorate the contribution to sports and society of people of color. I’ve decided to honor a man that deserves to be talked about more; not just because he is a great football player, but because of his contributions off the football pitch.
The young forward took the football world by storm in 2016 when he scored twice in his debut against Midtjylland in the Europa League. He then did did it again when he made his Premier League debut against Arsenal. Rashford also scored in his first Manchester Derby debut, Champions League debut, and in his England debut at the international level.
However, what people should admire Rashford most, is his “Food Poverty” activism. In October 2019, he started the “In The Box” campaign with Selfridges. The idea of the program was to give essentials to homeless people over the Christmas period. He and his mother visited homeless shelters to give out the boxes personally.
In March 2020, when the whole world “shut down” do to the impact of COVID-19, Rashford teamed up with various charity foundations to deliver meals to those in Greater Manchester who were no longer receiving their free school meals, as well as children in community centers. On June 11th, Rashford announced that the charity reached three million children across the country. After Queen Elizabeth II appointed him Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Rashford vowed to continue and to expand his program. His demands were for expansion of the free school meal program, provision of meals and activities during school holidays.
Conservative MPs rejected the call for extension of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021. But the young Englishman got a big support from businesses, charities, and local councils. Along the supporters of his charity program are former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, billionaire Michael Moritz, and “The Times” newspaper.
For the importance and the recognition across the country, we can mention the fact that days before the Liverpool – Manchester United derby, Liverpool fans considered putting up a Marcus Rashford banner. It didn’t happen – but the fact that Liverpool fans considered to perpetuate one of their arch enemies’ players should say enough.
Let’s hope Marcus Rashford keeps up the good work and keeps expanding his efforts through his various charity events. The future is bright ahead of him, he’ll not only be a Manchester United legend, but a legend in the fight against poverty. The futbol world needs more young players like him – who can also show the world that you can be a great example both on and off the pitch. A real modern day role model!