(Reuters) – Former U.S. President Barack Obama has praised England forward Marcus Rashford for his work tackling child food poverty and the two discussed by video call how young people can make an impact on society.
Last year, Rashford led a campaign to end child food poverty and successfully lobbied the British government to continue providing free school meals during the holidays.
The 23-year-old was awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the young people I meet — including Marcus — they’re ahead of where I was when I was 23,” Obama said in a Zoom call organised by publishers Penguin.
“They’re already making changes and being positive forces in their communities.
“Even if you do something positive on a small scale, that’s making a difference, and it’s the accumulation of people doing positive things over time that makes us a little bit better with each successive generation.”
The Manchester United forward said it was “surreal” talking to the former U.S. President.
“I mean, it’s quite surreal, isn’t it? I’m sitting in my kitchen in Manchester, speaking to President Obama. But immediately he made me feel at ease,” Rashford said.
“It wasn’t long before I realised just how aligned our experiences as children were in shaping the men you see today – adversity, obstacles and all.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)