Marcus Rashford and Barack Obama share ‘surreal’ Zoom conversation

Marcus Rashford has spoken with former US president Barack Obama to discuss the power young people can have to make change in society.

Rashford, the Manchester United and England striker, met virtually with the 44th president of the United States in a Zoom conversation organised by Penguin Books.

Their discussion focused on the importance of giving back to your local community and the positive impact of reading, as well as other themes from the former president’s memoir, A Promised Land. They also spoke about some of their shared experiences, including being raised by single mothers.

Rashford, 23, last year spearheaded a prominent campaign to tackle child food poverty in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. It led to 1.7 million vulnerable children being supported by a £520m government scheme and other projects have helped deliver 130 million meals. He has also launched a food education and cooking project for children, “Full Time Meals”.

Obama said: “A lot of the young people I meet – including Marcus – they’re ahead of where I was when I was 23. They’re already making changes and being positive forces in their communities.”

The conversation, which was moderated by broadcaster and author June Sarpong, will be released in full on Penguin UK’s YouTube channel at 2pm on Friday.

Rashford said: “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.

“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. I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. When president Obama speaks, all you want to do is listen.”

What's your reaction?