Rashford tells how fight against child poverty helped distract him

‘I just thought, “Let me have another go at an issue that I’ve tried to start tackling a few years ago”‘: Marcus Rashford reveals how his fight against child food poverty helped distract him from injury nightmare during lockdown

  • Man United striker received an MBE  for his efforts in combating child poverty
  • Rashford revealed how his crusade distracted him from his injury nightmare
  • He launched a relentless campaign to feed underprivileged children this year

Marcus Rashford has revealed how his fight to help end child food poverty provided him with respite amid his injury trauma.

The Manchester United striker received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for the relentless campaign he launched to feed underprivileged children, a campaign that was so successful it forced the Prime Minister into a U-turn to provide free school meals for 1.3million kids in the summer.

Some campaigners in the past, particularly from the north, have turned down recognition from Buckingham Palace, but Rashford insists it never crossed his mind to reject his gong.

Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford (right) was awarded an MBE 

He says the cause gave him something to focus on during a period in which a stress fracture in his back, sustained in January, meant he could not put any effort into football.

‘In the beginning, I had a back injury so I couldn’t do any exercise,’ said Rashford (below), who is in contention to start for England against Denmark tonight.

‘I couldn’t do any gym work, so I was literally just doing recovery bits. I’ve always struggled when I don’t have anything to work towards.

‘So I just thought, ‘Let me have another go at an issue that I’ve tried to start tackling a few years ago’.

Rashford wore boots with children’s messages on them during England’s win over Belgium

 ‘We wanted to do it in the best way we could, and we took more time, and in analysing the facts and figures. At the beginning I had more of an input than I do now — now we must keep momentum.

‘As long as things move forward — and in the right direction — and I can see that those numbers are dropping, with more and more families seeking help. They are the things that make me happy. They shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help.’ Rashford has been overwhelmed by the reception he has received but, equally, he remains distressed about the messages that continue to be sent to him detailing the intolerable conditions some families are facing.

‘To be honest, there have been lots of different messages, and they all affect me,’ said Rashford. ‘It’s just sad to know it’s still going on. I was in that position when I was younger, and some families are in much worse positions.

‘I can only imagine what it feels like for the parents and the children who just want the best for one another. It’s difficult to really say one thing that somebody said to me that sticks out, because for me they’re all as important as each other.’

The 22-year-old has received universal praise for using his platform to highlight social issues

His determination to keep the momentum going behind the campaign will not waver and Rashford is adamant that it will not be a distraction in his attempts to reach peak form for club and country. He says he has learned how to cope with scrutiny and has a support team to help him through.

‘I do my best to keep everything separate,’ said Rashford.

‘I’ve done it in the best way possible and have still been focused on the pitch. I’ve still been working hard and trying to help the team, and that’s something that will stick with me.

‘It’s something I’ve been doing since I can remember as a kid. It’s almost second nature for me to be focused on things on the pitch.

I’ve had to increase my understanding of issues off the pitch in order to help people.

‘I don’t feel that it affects my football — that is why I’m so enthusiastic about it.’

Rashford’s school meals campaign saw him take on the Government and win earlier this year

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