Marcus Rashford, an inspiring example for his peers



He knows where he comes from. And in his case, the expression is not overused. A small red brick house, with, in front, a patch of lawn planted with a cherry tree in the middle: this is where Marcus Rashford grew up, in the district of Wythenshawe, one of the poorest in Manchester. There the footballer turned star pushed his first balls. The place sticks to his skin, literally: he had this decoration tattooed on his side.

The memory is not so distant for the 23-year-old player, seed of champion pushed very quickly, of his arrival at the academy of Manchester United at the age of 7 years to the professional team barely of age for a resounding debut: two goals for his first replacement in the Europa League, and another double a few days later for his first start in the league against Arsenal. It was in 2016. Four years later, Marcus has become a centerpiece of the “Red Devils”, serial scorer and third salary of the club, behind the French Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, to more than 14 million euros annually .

He bends Boris Johnson

The millionaire, however, has not forgotten anything. From his penniless childhood and often without much on the plate, with his mother alone to raise three boys. These vivid memories, Marcus summoned them during the first confinement last March, deciding to help children in particular benefiting in Great Britain from food aid from which he himself had benefited. It first promotes a specialized association, the FareShare network. Its notoriety is such that donations are pouring in.

He then moved up a gear by writing to English MPs and leading a petition to push Boris Johnson’s government to extend its program for the distribution of free meals for children during the summer of 2020, set up to replace the canteen for containment.

→ THE FACTS. United Kingdom: under pressure from footballer, government extends aid to disadvantaged children

After a first refusal, the government gives in. At the start of the school year, Marcus Rashford does it again by asking for the program to be extended to the All Saints and Christmas holidays. New grimace from Boris Johnson. Among the English conservatives, social assistance is not always prized, perceived as a counterproductive assistance.

Marcus Rashford immediately sets off on the attack. His petition exceeds one million signatures. Boris Johnson ends up picking up his phone to tell him the good news at the beginning of November: his government is finally putting nearly 190 million euros on the table to guarantee aid until Christmas 2021.

But Marcus Rashford’s victory is not just political. In this period of pandemic which further increases the number of people living below the poverty line, thousands of citizens and many businesses have also embarked on the free delivery of meals to the most needy. And the player’s call also resonates very loudly on the lawns of the Premier League.

Realize the power of players

Liverpool playmaker Jürgen Klopp praised his commitment: “Even I, who don’t know him, am proud of him. “ Former England international Franck Lampard (106 caps), now Chelsea coach, judged his action ” fantastic “, applauding “A group of players in the Premier League who dare to speak louder and louder on these subjects”. Effectively. Some players in the English league know how to be generous and have long supported humanitarian causes or this or that association. But rarely with the strength and conviction displayed by Marcus Rashford. Who is no longer alone.

At the end of October, Manchester City international striker Raheem Sterling, 25, also announced that he wanted to take advantage of his notoriety to engage further, by participating in the creation of a foundation promoting access to university and for the employment of disadvantaged young people. Already very present on the humanitarian front, the German midfielder of Arsenal Mesut Özil, removed from the field by his trainer, stands out elsewhere, also providing meals to more than 1,000 schoolchildren from ten schools in the north of London.

What to delight Juan Mata, teammate of Marcus Rashford in Manchester. Since 2017, the Spaniard has encouraged players to donate 1% of their salary like him to an association supporting various NGOs. More than a hundred joined him. But there is still a long way to go. Reacting to Marcus Rashford’s initiatives, Juan Mata recently commented: “It’s important that the players realize the grandstand they have and how many people they can help. “

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And now the books

Barely finished his campaign for food aid, Marcus Rashford attacks other foods. He now wants to guarantee access to books for underprivileged children. “I only started reading when I was 17, and it completely changed my mentality and my way of seeing things”, said the player in a press release announcing his action in mid-November. According to him, 380,000 children in the UK have never owned books. The champion has notably joined forces with a publisher to create a reading club providing a list of recommended books, and to launch a collection dedicated to the promotion of reading and to the literacy of children from modest backgrounds.

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