MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month: Chivas USA's Michael Lahoud
It takes a tremendous amount of focus and discipline to become a professional athlete. The success of those athletes can usually be attributed to those who helped to shape and groom them. For young athletes, keeping that momentum and avoiding distractions can be difficult. Having guidance and someone to look up to, a mentor in many cases, is vital to maximizing efforts both on and off the field.
Knowing the importance of having a role model, Chivas USA midfielder Michael Lahoud dedicates time each week to a local soccer club, Compton United. Beyond teaching soccer skills, Lahoud takes a very active role with Compton United players working with an intimate group of about four students, ages 14-16. Lahoud prefers to be hands-on to provide the
children with a very personal experience.
Every Thursday, Lahoud and fellow Chivas teammate Justin Braun, attend
training sessions with members of the local youth soccer organization. After their training, both Braun and Lahoud sit with the boys and eat dinner. They talk about healthy eating, nutrition for athletes and simply catch up with events in each of their lives. Remembering what it was like to navigate the often complicated the waters of being a teen, Lahoud wants to serve as an ally and resource for others.
“Growing up, I had mentors,” explained Lahoud. “I was grateful for their time. They always found a way to show up, listen, and lend advice. It made an impact on me and I want to give that to someone else.”
“My mother was a big advocate for being involved in the community,” Lahoud continued. “She taught us the importance of selflessness and being proactive.”
Lahoud’s weekly involvement with Compton United isn’t his only charitable endeavor. He recently became involved with the Wall-Las Memorias Project, an organization that is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing illness among those affected by HIV/AIDS by using the inspiration of The AIDS Monument.
During National HIV Testing Week (June 21-28), Lahoud made a bold statement by taking a public HIV test. His efforts, in conjunction with others, helped generate awareness and encouraged individuals to conquer their fears and learn about their status.
“There is an estimated 15,000 people in the Los Angeles area alone that are infected with HIV and aren’t even aware of it,” Said Lahoud. “That’s a pretty astounding number. Education is the key to prevention. While taking a public test was intimidating, I felt it sent an important message.”
Lahoud has also donated time to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts by participating in numerous charity events to raise funds. Additionally, he has been active in Chrysalis, an organization that aids homeless and impoverished people in L.A. by helping them find jobs.
Lahoud, only in his second year with Chivas USA, has also dedicated time to support the local affiliate of MLS W.O.R.K.S. national
partner America SCORES. America SCORES LA is a non-profit that serves children in Los Angeles through a comprehensive soccer, creative writing, and service learning curriculum. America SCORES LA promotes confidence and
inspires youth to lead healthy lifestyles, be engaged students and become agents of change in their communities.
Lahoud takes the ideals of teamwork that he has learned on the field and applies them off the field through his various activities. “Giving
your time for five minutes or one hour can make a big difference. It’s our responsibility to do things for others, to find the time. It’s amazing how much you can relate to others in ways you might not expect. Whether it is fellow volunteers or players of Compton United, we all learn from one another. ”
Still young in his career, Lahoud is extremely ambitious. Although he was raised in Virginia, Lahoud was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He is planning a trip with other athletes to visit Sierra Leone and help build a school during the off-season.
His goal is to give back to his native country and he ultimately hopes to start his own organization to benefit the citizens of
Sierra Leone one day. Recognizing the wide appeal of soccer but lack of resources such as proper equipment and adequate facilities, Lahoud would like to bring soccer to the next level in Sierra Leone and use the beautiful game as a platform for social change.
“I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to play in amazing elite stadiums like The Home Depot Center and Red Bull Arena. I want to try and bring that feeling to the people of Sierra Leone.”