Rashford wins PFA award for Charitable efforts

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The Professional Football Association Awards is a season ending ceremony which crowns and acknowledges the efforts of the best players and teams at the end of a long season. While most of the headlines tend to focus on the more glamorous player of the year and team of the year awards, the Professional Football Association also finds time to acknowledge those who have displayed excellence outside of the pitch. It is little wonder then that Marcus Rashford has been selected as this year's recipient of the PFA Merit Award. The England and Manchester United forward received the honour on Monday, recognising his charitable endeavours during the lockdown period following a consistent and far reaching drive to combat child food poverty.

The pandemic saw Rashford take the lead in raising awareness on the matter of child food poverty. He was able to build a partnership with FareShare, a charity which fights hunger and food waste to aid a number of vulnerable individuals around the country during the pandemic. An initial goal of helping to raise £100,000 was outstripped to the tune of £20 million with the result being that close to 3 million children across the UK are able to have access to meals while schools are closed.

Rashford’s campaigning efforts saw him thrust into the political limelight. His open letter urging government officials to reconsider an existing system which meant that the families that used free school meal vouchers would be without them for the summer prompted a dramatic U-turn. Rashford’s campaigning not only helped to ensure that millions of families were now better placed to manage the summer period, but also stood to show what could be achieved when influence meets a groundswell of popular support.

Rashford has continued to raise awareness for the issue even as we move into September and also helped to announce the creation of the national food distribution task force. The task force which was formed with brands including Aldi, Kellogg’s and Deliveroo will stregthen the aims of helping to reduce child food poverty and continue to recommend policy changes. In a letter released to MPs on Tuesday, he further highlighted three points.

1. The expansion of free school meals to every child whose family is on universal credit.

2. The expansion of holiday provision to all children on free school meals.

3. Added focus on a significant boost to the value of Healthy Start vouchers for families with young children

Rashford who is still only 22, was beaten to the PFA Young Player of the year award by Liverpool full back Trent Alexander Arnold. With 22 goals and 11 assists to bring to an end his season at club level Rashford has been noticeably prolific on the pitch too. While his on-field efforts may not have been enough to win him the headline act, he will no doubt take solace in an award which is even more sweet.

Mayowa Ayodele

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