Football – A force for good?

 12 June 2021 |

Over the next month, football will dominate our lives. For supporters of Wales, England and Scotland this will be an exciting and fearful time. After a year of lockdowns and restrictions, football returns to dominate our TV and much of the pub talk across the three nations. Euro 2020 is a year late but, perhaps because of the delay, many will be ‘over the moon’ to see the competition at last playing out, possibly whatever the outcome. There will be many heroes and probably more disappointments but for me, as someone who hardly ever watches football, or is even that much interested in it, I will raise a glass to one Marcus Rashford whose campaign to feed children and fight poverty has inspired and shown how a footballer can make a difference.  His dedication to fight for those in poverty comes from his Manchester background which he has never forgotten despite his position as an international player and his probable wealth.

Former President Barack Obama has said: “When you look at the history of big social movements and big social change, it is usually young people who initiate this because they do not take for granted things have to be as they always were and can imagine something different. Like Marcus, I think we all find our own paths to that kind of service, but if enough young people do that, that is how progress gets made and how things get moved forward. A lot of the young people I meet — including Marcus — they are ahead of where I was when I was 23. They are already making changes and being positive forces in their communities and countries.”

I admire Rashford hugely; I’d love to see churches, of whatever type, encourage the young with more than just words, to lead us into the future as one people across the nations. Whoever wins the Euro 2020 competition let’s see a display of excellent football, played out without rancour or unwanted aggression, as a display of what we can all do to bring people together, helping those in need, and encouraging those who struggle when the world seems against them.