Book Review: You Are a Champion – How to Be the Best You Can Be by Marcus Rashford

There have been few more inspirational footballers in recent years than Marcus Rashford. On the pitch, footballers the world over continue to inspire young fans, and off the pitch, many of them make significant contributions too, although often behind the scenes. But Marcus Rashford has stepped up in a way that truly deserves the title of ‘inspirational’, making a real difference to the lives of young people through his food poverty and school meals campaigns. And he’s not stopping there, with a new book, You Are A Champion, aimed at empowering, uplifting and inspiring children and young adults – and some not so young adults too!

Indeed, I may be two decades or so too old for the intended audience of the book, but I couldn’t help but be inspired by Rashford’s positivity, his belief and his values. It’s a book that genuinely made me smile as I read it and I can’t begin to imagine how significantly this will speak to young people. There are so many challenges for the young generation and the period of adolescence is a tough one to negotiate in so many ways but having someone like Marcus Rashford explain his own experiences and speak directly to young people in a way that is encouraging and relatable is hugely empowering.

The book works through a number of themes, including self-belief, finding your team, navigating adversity and using your voice, all of which Marcus Rashford is supremely well-placed to discuss, and he shares examples from his own life, as well as motivating the reader and encouraging them to engage through action points at the end of each chapter. It is incredible to see someone so young (he’s still only 23 unbelievably) and so famous not just sit back in the wings, but to use his platform and, more importantly, use it in such an effective way for those who are at an age to still be positively influenced. It would be easy for him just to enjoy playing football and not worry about everything else in the world, but Marcus Rashford has chosen to act, to use his voice and his position to tackle these problems now when they are happening. Whether you are a Manchester United fan or not, a football fan or not, you have to admire a young man who is using his influence for positive change and having a real, tangible effect on people’s lives. Indeed, I think this book will have a significant effect on a lot of its readers, helping them to feel understood, connected and empowered.

In terms of the book itself, it’s really thoughtfully and invitingly put together, from the words through to the design. Indeed, suited to its younger audience, the book, written with Carl Anka, is accessible and engaging but not oversimplified. And chunks of text are broken up with graphics and key pull-out messages, appealing to those who may prefer less dense text and visual messaging. Fonts and styling also ensure that the text never becomes too overwhelming and make for a more enjoyable reading experience. I did think that the cover could have perhaps been a bit funkier and a little less ‘self-help’ but in a way it as understated as its author. But within its pages this is a book that really aims to make a difference and I suspect it will, including for those for whom reading, and books may not be considered a passion. Indeed, to my mind, every school library should have a copy of this book, or rather, every library full stop, and every young person should have an opportunity to read this book, whether independently or with the support of another reader, to really benefit from the important and inspiring life lessons from someone who children can both relate to and look up to. It’s hugely inspiring too that Marcus Rashford speaks so positively about books and reading, as well as continuing to learn and develop his skills and, regardless of our age, there is something we can all take from his example.

For those thinking they could not admire him more after all of his successes on the pitch, and crucially off it, his humility, his positivity and, above all, his love for his family – and the stories about his mum and nanna – will simply serve to single out Marcus Rashford further as a truly decent human being. He is not just a footballer, he is so much more – a social champion, an ally and a role model. It is quite a responsibility for someone so young, but more than just accepting it, he’s actively sought out this path for himself and that he’s doing so alongside such a remarkable football career is further testament to him. The trophies and medals he’s won are a major achievement in themselves, but his power to help people and change their lives is a legacy that will make an even greater impact.

Jade Craddock


(Macmillan Children’s Books. Main Market edition. May 2021. Paperback 224 pages)



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Posted June 18, 2021 by Editor in category "Reviews

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