In football, you are always stronger in numbers. With a shared focus, people from different cultures, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, political affiliations and religions can unite to achieve incredible things. When you pull on that national team shirt, rivalry subsides and is replaced with a shared desire to win. When fans step into that stadium, for 90 minutes they feel a part of something, a collective, able to leave any worries outside those turnstiles. To many it is a religion. To me, it’s still a dream.
You grow up idolising figures in this game who turn out to be just like you and me. Human beings with human emotions and who, more than likely, have overcome some level of adversity in their career. Disappointingly for some, the ‘stick to football’ advice doesn’t cut it where I’m from. See, when my community had nothing to call their own, they always found something in the way of kindness to give me. I am a product of their compassion, of their drive and of their willingness to offer me more than what was on my doorstep. I’d be doing that community and my family a disservice if I did not use my platform to speak on behalf of the millions whose voices are not being heard.
A shoulder injury has given me ample time to reflect. While I wish I could say significant progress has been made to stabilise households suffering with food insecurity across the UK, the reality is it’s become much worse — 27 per cent worse than pre-pandemic. In fact, you could fill 27 Wembley stadiums with the 2.5 million children who are struggling to know where their next meal is coming from today. Low-income families are now faced with further deadlines, whether the end of furlough or the social security cut.