April 2, 2021
Marcus Rashford book blazes a trail for underprivileged readers
by Tom ClaytonLast week it was confirmed, in the latest instance of “Marcus Rashford being an excellent human,” that the Manchester United striker—who is just 23!—is putting his name to a new children’s book, You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be.
The book, which will publish with Macmillan on May 27, is co-produced with journalist Carl Anka—one of The Athletic‘s Manchester United correspondents—and performance psychologist Katie Warriner. Macmillan says You Are a Champion will help young readers to “find out how positive thinking can change their life, build mental resilience, learn how to navigate adversity and discover the unstoppable power of their own voice.”
Rashford, who received an MBE in October last year having raised over £20m for the food equality charity FareShare, played a pivotal role in forcing a government u-turn on the cancellation of school meal vouchers during the 2020 summer holidays. With You Are a Champion, Rashford now turns his attention (and considerable political clout) to inequality in literacy. A statement on the Macmillan website reads:
I only started reading at 17, and it completely changed my outlook and mentality. We know there are approximately 400,000 children across the UK today who have never owned a book, children who are in vulnerable environments. That has to change… Let our children read that they are not alone and enable them to dream. Equip them for obstacles and adversities they might face. Allow them to relate to the characters by making sure people of all race, religion and gender are depicted correctly and representative of modern society.
In her report for The Guardian, Alexandra Topping also notes that Rashford is heading up The Marcus Rashford Book Club, aimed at getting books into the hands of readers from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Two of his own fiction titles will follow later in the year.
Rashford is just one of many footballers, managers or ex-pros doing much to help their local communities during the coronavirus pandemic: this Talksport list features Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho helping the elderly in Enfield; Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha opening up his rental property portfolio to key health workers; and Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson donating ‘large sums’ to six food banks in Glasgow. Earlier this year it was also reported that former Manchester United player Lou Macari had adapted his Lou Macari Centre, a shelter in Stoke-On-Trent, to house Covid-safe ‘pods’ in a bid to tackle homelessness in the city.
In a country desperately in need of good news stories, Marcus Rashford’s quiet integrity, his unwillingness to shy away from difficult conversations, is wholly refreshing. It also proves that the power and influence of sport and celebrity – when used for good – really can bring about lasting and positive change.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.