Rashford on striking balance between child poverty campaign and scoring goals

If there is one Project Big Picture football should embrace, it is the work of Marcus Rashford.

Devoid of self-interest, its target only to help those in the greatest need, without wanting anything in return.

Actually, Rashford has received something, an MBE, but that will not weaken his tireless work in trying to end child food poverty.

Nor will the few idiots who suggest he should ‘stick to football’ or those who, without any justification, wonder if his campaigning and fund-raising might affect his game.

Rashford’s professionalism is beyond question, ask Gareth Southgate or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But it is simply that when he has some downtime, the Manchester United and England striker tends to use it in pursuing his quest to make sure no child in this country goes hungry.

And that is because he is still horrified that kids can go without food here.

“Every single day it shocks me,” he says. “It’s not until people see the numbers.

“It’s just mind-blowing the amount of people who are suffering and the amount of people who don’t know where to get the help.

“There’s a lot of things that would shock a lot of people if they knew the facts about the issue.

“I’ve had the chance to visit some of the families and hear how it’s affected them and changed their lives.”

At a time when Southgate has had to deal with a number of Covid rule-breakers and when some of his young players have let him down, 22-year-old Rashford is a shining light in his camp.

But he is also part of a generation of footballers – Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose spring to mind – who are unafraid to speak up about issues away from the field.

Rashford says: “You mentioned those players’ names and there are more people speaking out on issues they feel strongly about.

“It definitely gives you the element of freedom to speak about things that are important to you.

“That's actually how everything first started for me just speaking on something I thought was right. I don't think players should feel bad about doing that.

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“It's becoming more and more important and the more people do that, the more we can help and we can affect.”

Rashford will start against Denmark, looking to follow up on his penalty against Belgium and his good form in that game.

And with games for country and club coming thick and fast, Rashford has months of charity work pre-planning to help him out.

He explains: “In the beginning, I had a back injury, so I couldn't do any exercise and I've always struggled when I don't have anything to work towards so I just thought let me just have another go at an issue that I’d tried to start tackling a few years ago.

“So I had more of an input than I do now. Now it's about keeping momentum.

“A lot of the work being done now is pre-planned a few months ago, and I obviously need to concentrate on my football and winning games.”

Not that he will be scaling back his unstinting efforts to make sure the nation’s underprivileged children and families are provided with healthy meals.

“I can only look forward and see if we can keep finding ways to make things that bit easier for individuals,” he declares.

Now that is one Project Big Picture we can all get behind.

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