“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.
Serving it up on a plate, on and off the pitch
As I was watching striker Marcus Rashford accept his Expert Panel Special Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020 Awards show recently, I could not help but think of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a resounding impact on us all, with professional footballers being no exception. They were among the first to return to work, when the rest of us were under strict instruction to remain at home. Many had friends and family, in addition to their fellow players, who had fallen ill, or even sadly died, as a result of contracting COVID-19.
All of this would make it pretty understandable for players like Rashford to have gone into their shells, wishing to be out of the limelight as much as they could, to prevent the mental strain they were no doubt experiencing from expanding any further. However, it is during these toughest times of challenge and controversy that Rashford has excelled.
Campaign for Free School Meals
His campaigning successfully fed more than a million children in England over the summer holidays, as they were able to claim free school meal vouchers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this, more than £400 million in Government funding was provided to support the poorest of our nation’s children and their families.
Rashford’s impact is so large that a BBC documentary on his free school meals campaign has now been produced, to broadcast its importance to an even larger audience.
Rashford has spoken out of his own battles with hunger as a child and the sacrifices that his family had to make. He stated: “I’m well aware that at times my friends only invited me to eat at their houses for their parents’ reassurance that I was eating that evening”. His lobbying for ending child food poverty in the UK has led to him being awarded an MBE, but his work to help the most vulnerable in this country did not stop there.
Rashford Engaging Youth With Books
Rashford has also launched a book club, teaming up with Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB) to encourage children from under-privileged backgrounds to engage in reading.
Some could be forgiven for thinking that it is easy for wealthy footballers to make donations to charity in order to further their public image and brand, particularly in moments of comfort and convenience. However, I am sure that no one would argue that the immense social impact that Rashford has had in a period that, for many of us, is the toughest of our lives, could in any way be considered easy.
It is for this reason that Rashford undoubtedly deserves all of the credit that he is receiving, with claims that he is deserving of a knighthood sure to grow as he continues along his incredible journey.
Be sure to also check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!