West Brom’s Sawyers says Rashford is inspiring a new generation of footballer

Romaine Sawyers reckons Marcus Rashford is inspiring a new generation of footballers to help communities.

But the West Brom midfielder says it has always been “embedded” in him as his mum Diane is so heavily involved helping others.

Diane was this week recognised on the Football Black List for her outstanding voluntary work in Birmingham.

She helps run the Holford Drive Community Sports Hub which offers football, boxing, tennis and cricket for kids up to seven days a week.

Diane took the keys in 2013 and the venue has since been visited by Prince William and given a Queen's Golden Jubilee Award.

She has devoted herself to the project after raising Sawyers and his older brother and sister, plus foster children, as a single parent.

Sawyers credits her as his inspiration and has been a long-term contributor at the set-up, which hosts up to 4,000 kids over normal summer holidays.

Now he is pleased to see other sportspersons making a difference too after the phenomenal recent efforts of Manchester United and England striker Rashford trying to end UK child food poverty.

Sawyers reckons promoting good causes is an antidote to the pressures of Premier League football.

Sawyers, 29, said: “I have a job to do on a match-day and every day in training.

“But helping the community is a bigger satisfaction.

“I am going to be a footballer for 10-15 years. I hope to be a human for 70 or so hopefully.

“Rashford doing it as a Manchester United and England player is great because it gets highlighted.

“When there are people sitting on the fence or not doing it, people like Rashford will make them think: 'I need to get up and do my part'.

“Hopefully that continues all the way down the leagues and other people take responsibility and do it for the right reasons.

“It is not about awards or accolades, the real trophy is the child that comes back the next day – or the child that says thank you.

“You can change somebody's day and week and that can have a domino effect and continue.

“Kids can then maximise their abilities more and become better at school and more manageable at home.

“In football most of the work is done on the grass but other skills have been embedded in me from an early age.

“Whenever I come here I am not Romaine from West Brom, I am Diane's son , it humbles me.

“I have always been a part of places like the hub which also give me a place to switch off when I have finished training or on a day off.”

But despite Sawyers' kind, generous nature, Sheffield United, tonight's visitors to relegation rivals West Brom, shouldn't expect to find him a soft touch.

He added: “If I lose on a Saturday I will be grumpy until Wednesday.

“But within that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I can put another face on and realise there is another objective.”

Under Diane's leadership with colleague Lincoln Moses MBE, their hub is home for 18 junior and adults football teams called Continental Star.

Sawyers has previously sorted all the teams out with strips and even bought managers' coats for all the bosses.

But the set-up's most important goal is changing lives – and sometimes even preserving them too.

Diane, who has a memorial wall at the hub, said: “We have saved some lives and helped in one way or another.

“Hopefully we can be here to help the next person through the door.

“It is so important for the kids to have somewhere else to go other than school and home.”

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