How does someone go from one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League to an active force for change in his country?
In his role as an analyst for NBC Sports, Memphis 901 FC co-owner Tim Howard went to find out in an in-depth interview with Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford for the network’s “Inside the Mind” series.
Rashford has been instrumental in leading the way for the continuation of a program that provided vouchers to families whose children qualify for free meals throughout the summer as the United Kingdom remained in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For Rashford – who himself had needed to rely on free school meals and food banks while growing up in Wythenshawe, Manchester – the mission was a personal one as he worked to change the minds of government leaders who were aiming to end the voucher scheme that affected 1.3 million children at the end of the school year.
It also came at a time when Rashford’s own fortunes on the field had taken a setback in the form of a double back stress fracture that had sidelined him in January.
“For me it was probably one of the most difficult times I’ve had since I’ve been in the First Team,” Rashford told Howard. “I was out injured, obviously, with my back, but when you do your back there’s literally nothing you can do, no gym work, you just have to sit in your house all day on bone-healing machines.
“I just started reading different books and learning about things I’ve not gone into before in my life, so this was something that I’ve tried to do some work on when I was 18. Then, I’d probably done it in not the most effective way, so I just started speaking to my brothers on the phone and we were going through the possible ways to make it more effective, to make it better than we did the last time.
“For that six weeks that I was doing nothing, it was almost a motivational thing for me. It was something that when I started the first phone call with my brother, I wanted to get to the end of it and have a plan going into when we were speaking to people about creating change. I wanted a plan of what was going to happen, and what was going to happen next.”
Rashford’s work has earned him the honor of an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors list, announced in October. The award has given added credibility to the work Rashford continues to do to help underprivileged children in British society.
“It’s just a hugely proud moment. It’s something that growing up you never thought about, you never even dreamed about because it was something that just seemed way out of reach. It was never a goal of mine when I was younger, it just something that in our household we never really spoke about. Them people seemed so far and so above where we were at that there was no point in really speaking about it.
“Obviously, it’s made my mum very proud, my family are proud of me, and I’m just happy [because] getting the MBE has actually forwarded the campaign. People have seen that I’ve got one, they want to find out why, and then they end up buying into the campaign, which for me is brilliant because it means they’re helping more families. They’re only small donations, but trust me, they add up and make a huge difference to people who need it.”
To learn more, watch the full conversation between Howard and Rashford on Inside the Mind.