Michael Lahoud Named NASL Humanitarian of the Year
Miami FC midfielder Michael Lahoud has received the 2016 NASL Humanitarian of the Year award for his efforts in his home country as well as in the United States. A Sierra Leone native, Lahoud fled to the U.S. during the country’s civil war and has used his time to give back to those who have not been as fortunate as him.
NASL Soccer News: Michael Lahoud’s story is one of rescue, redemption, and a promise to give back to those of his native Sierra Leone and others in the United States.
Lahoud has become involved with Schools for Salone, an organization that connects to his personal story of having fled Sierra Leone’s civil war in order to avoid becoming a child soldier. Schools for Salone has helped Lahoud understand the importance of giving back to the children of Sierra Leone who have not been as fortunate as him. For his efforts off the field, Lahoud has been named 2016 North American Soccer League (NASL) Humanitarian of the Year.
In early September of last year, the school that both Lahoud and fellow soccer player Kei Kamara worked so hard to have built, began providing free education to students in Freetown. The school now welcomes more than 50 students, with Lahoud planning to continue his efforts after his soccer career.
“This school is a part of me,” Lahoud said. “It is a part of my story and will always be a part of my story. Building it has been a dream come true. I hope to continue changing the lives many through the sport that I love.”
Lahoud, 30, has also done public speaking events since arriving at Miami FC towards the end of the Spring Season, including USPORT at the University of Miami Business School. The central midfielder began the NASL season with the New York Cosmos, on loan from MLS’s Philadelphia Union. During his time in Long Island he was also invited to speak to the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf on Long Island, N.Y., Beyond Sport ESPN Leadership Dinner, and was the guest of honor at the Young Life Annual Foundation dinner in the Big Apple.
Lahoud moved to the United States at the age of six and grew up in Virginia. He attended Wake Forest University, helping the Demon Deacons to the NCAA Division I men’s title in 2007. Lahoud was drafted by the former Chivas USA in the first round in 2009, and is now involved in the LAFC Youth Leadership Academy and Bresee Foundation in Los Angeles.
During his nearly four years with Philadelphia, Lahoud earned a cap for the Sierra Leone National Team during qualification matches for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was the first time he returned home since he was a child.
“I think the most rewarding thing for me is really seeing is athletes, and as an athlete in particular, that we really can make a difference through our sports,” Lahoud added. “I believe soccer can make a difference.”
Photo Credit: North American Soccer League