Manchester United forward, Marcus Rashford, has received the PFA Merit award for his contributions in helping fight child food poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 22-year-old was presented with the special accolade at the Aon Training Complex after a year in which he successfully lobbied the UK government to provide free school meals for children over the summer holidays.
Marcus also recently announced the formation of a national food task force to recommend further policy changes and in June became the youngest-ever recipient of an honorary degree from The University of Manchester.
Rashford, who along with team-mate Mason Greenwood was also nominated for the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award, also enjoyed his best season yet on the pitch for United, scoring 22 goals in 44 games as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finished third in the Premier League and reached three cup semi-finals.
On the PFA Merit award for 2020, he said: “It’s obviously a huge honour and I just hope it encourages and promotes other players to do things to help as much as they can. Of course I’m very happy and I’ll definitely continue to do my best to help people.”
On his child food poverty project, he said: “I was injured during lockdown and at the beginning I was working towards getting back with the team and stuff like that but there were conversations going on saying there might not be games until September. When I was sat at home I just needed something to work towards and a goal to achieve. So that was just something I spoke about with my brothers over the phone and the rest of my family. We just tried to find the best way to try and help people.”
“It’s been a long journey but I think the first phase was probably the hardest bit, learning and self-teaching who the right people to get in contact with to help these children were especially. We had the ideas but we didn’t know where to pitch them, or who to pitch them to, so that was probably the most difficult phase of everything really. That was right at the beginning of lockdown.”
“What we’ve done so far is only a short-term answer and me and my team behind me are just trying to find plans on how we can help these children for the rest of their childhood really and long-term answers to the problem. At the moment we don’t have the answers but we’ll do our best to try and find them and progress the situation that they’re in the best way we can.”
“It’s been a year that’s been quite difficult for me, with injuries and niggles and stuff that I’ve just had to deal with as and when the games come up. It’s been a tough season but also a season where I’ve matured a lot and it’s been a big year of learning for me. I’ve always said, as long as I’m learning and improving, I’m happy and hopefully next year we can continue to do that, but we need to add that little bit of getting over the line and winning trophies. Obviously [I got to] three semi-finals with United and we’ve not quite got over the line so it’s something that we need to definitely learn from. It’s a young group so I’m sure we’ll learn and improve and hopefully next season we can get some trophies.”
On the new season, he said: “Yeah, I’m definitely excited. Like I mentioned before about last season, we missed out on those trophies but by very fine margins. Hopefully next year we can go that extra step. Trophies is what drives this club and it’s what’s important to all the players so it’s something we need to have in the future and I think the players understand that. I’m just looking forward to being involved in those games.”