TRUE RED: The actions of Marcus Rashford this week should serve as an inspiration to us all. — AFP Photo
Being eligible for free school dinners is nothing to be ashamed of. I fell into that category during my early teenage years growing up in Liverpool when unemployment in the city was off the charts high and my own father was out of work.
As a result, I would be given a voucher to claim one meal at lunchtime in school. Now this was 1980s Liverpool, and the meal provided wasn’t always to a Michelin standard, but the sausages were good, and you can’t really go wrong with oven chips.
However that was 35 years ago, and sadly for reasons I cannot explain, there are now far more people in need of social support in the UK than ever before. It sure is a bleak time.
The gap between rich and poor is huge, and those at the bottom are suffering while the mega-rich at the top are on Easy Street.
That’s why seeing Manchester United’s young striker, Marcus Rashford go to so much effort to fight for what he believes in, restoring free school meals to those in desperate need, is a breath of fresh air.
The 22-year-old wrote to Members of Parliament in the UK asking them to reconsider their decision to scrap free school meals and extend the scheme for the rest of the summer.
And the powers that be did exactly that.
Some might say, wrongly if you ask me, that this is a bit rich coming from someone who is, well very rich.
But put aside the dosh Rashford picks up in salary each month and look at his actions for exactly what they are. A once working-class lad from Wythenshawe, Manchester, with an amazing talent who is using his fortunate position to damn good effect.
I’ve no doubt the forward will have a remarkable career. He will represent his country and I’m sure, if United get back to their previous best, will win lots of trophies between now and the time he hangs up his boots.
But for me, if he does go on to win the World Cup with England and every domestic medal in the game, none of those accolades will come close to matching what he achieved this week.
His actions have directly resulted in 1.3 million school children being able to eat this summer. That’s astounding and Rashford really does deserve a medal, bigger and shinier than any he will get from football.
Speaking of football... Halleluiah, the beautiful game is back. By the time you read this column matches in the English Premier League will have begun again, and I for one couldn’t be happier.
But we will have to prepare for change, a long-lasting change. For the remainder of the season, all the matches will be played without supporters.
It is a shame for Liverpool fans they will not get to see their team lift the Premier League trophy for the first time as the ceremony will be held behind closed doors.
But while that in itself doesn’t take anything away from the remarkable season Jurgen Klopp’s team has had, it will be a slightly damp squib to mark the end of the campaign.
For me, the euphoria of winning the title outweighs the disappointment of the circumstances in which the season has ended.
However, on the other hand, I’m sure it will just make the Reds even more determined to go out and do the same next season. — VNS