EPL stars go from model pros to role models: Richard Buxton
Rashford, Henderson, Sterling and Co show the caring side of football
Marcus Rashford continues to ignore the rule that football and politics make uneasy bedfellows.
Whenever players voice concerns about the deteriorating state of the nation, people living in social media echo chambers scream back that they should stick to what they know best. Leave the job of tackling racism and social deprivation to those that are truly incapable of leadership.
But Rashford is still choosing to speak truth to power in the name of a silent majority.
Manchester United's homegrown hero has called on the British government to reconsider its plans to rescind a food voucher scheme, created for children normally reliant on free school meals, to save them from complete food destitution following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Victorian-era levels of poverty still exist in the world's sixth-largest economy, as Rashford knows all too well.
His decision to take a stand is driven by first-hand experiences of such hardship.
A fledgling Old Trafford career was borne from an act of benevolence, with the Red Devils allowing him to join a year early to ease the pressure on his struggling single-parent family.
Across Manchester, Raheem Sterling shared those perils of growing up on the breadline.
Breakfast consisted of whatever came out of a vending machine while he and his sister helped their mother clean toilets in London hotels that were a world far removed from their own.
On the pitch, Rashford has repaid United's show of faith several times over. Yet, off the pitch, he feels increasingly compelled to give back to those who are standing where he once did.
Since March, the 22-year-old has raised over £20 million (S$35m) to aid food distribution charity FareShare UK cope with the increased demands caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Rashford's fundraising effort is not an outlier in the English Premier League, as proven by Jordan Henderson pioneering the PlayersTogether initiative, which provides much-needed equipment for frontline workers fighting the pandemic in hospital wards and care homes.
Even the smallest acts of kindness go a long way in trying times. Last weekend, Henderson's Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah chose to pick up the tab for an entire petrol forecourt.
Yet the government has turned the game into a literal political football by hailing and hijacking its status in equal measure to mask its own failings in an ongoing tactic of lies and deflection.
Thursday morning's (Singapore time) highly anticipated return of the EPL is now expected to lift the country's spirits just weeks after it was made a scapegoat for supposedly not doing enough.
Working-class kids like Rashford, Sterling and Henderson did not reach their current standing on talent alone, or by subscribing to the Tory mantra of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
Sacrifices had to be made along the way, often by those closest to them.
All three are now established England internationals and more attuned with the plight of the average fan than the well-heeled politicians trying to score cheap points by tarnishing them.
Footballers have a platform which needs to be utilised for a greater good, rather than silenced to placate the narrow-mindedness of lunatic fringes that have now entered mainstream society.
Mixing sport with politics has become a necessary step in attempts to redress the current inequality, which has continued to divide the country far more than tribal loyalties ever could.
Rashford's humanitarian stance should empower others in the game to follow his lead.