Friday, October 14, 2011

One on One with Michael Lahoud, MLS Humanitarian

Michael Lahoud has turned heads this year in more than one way. Apart from his steady play, he’s shown that one of the most notable factors about him is his motivation to give back to the community. Born in Sierra Leone and now plying his trade for Chivas USA, the former Wake Forest midfielder is an integral part of the “Date a Chiva” fundraiser. Via email, we interviewed Michael on the season so far and his need to give back to the community. Here is what he had to say:

MLS Reserves: How did the "Date a Chivas" ordeal come about?

Michael Lahoud: “Date A Chiva” is an idea I came up with last fall during the offseason. After meeting with Cindy Nofziger of Schools For Salone, I knew I wanted to be a part of their goal of building schools in Sierra Leone. It felt like a longshot but told our front office that I had a project that I wanted to undertake this year and the club has helped me make that project come alive. I wanted to do events that would be interactive for both the players, staff, fans, and everybody in the community who wants to be a part of it. The idea behind “Date A Chiva” gives that opportunity.”

MLS Reserves: You have an impressive record of doing volunteer/charity work. What motivates you to give back the way you do?

Michael Lahoud: “Thank you very much. Last year, as I was reflecting on a charity event I attended, called “Life Rolls On”, I caught myself thinking about what it means to serve. We all know that as athletes, we often get so bogged down in our lives that it’s tough to think anything else. The work I’ve witnessed with organizations like “Life Rolls On”, “Schools For Salone”, and my faith as a Christian motivates me to try to give my time to somebody in need whenever possible.”

Clearly, a locker room presence. From the commercial with Jimmy Conrad.
MLS Reserves: Can you talk a bit about how the season has gone for you? Chivas has had so many ups and downs, how have you stayed positive?

Michael Lahoud: “This season has had it small shares of ups and downs for our team. When faced with that adversity, it’s always so simple to take the easy way out by being content, and let that adversity erode belief within the team and within yourself as a player. The thing that keeps me going is knowing that resilience builds character. Taking pride in having something to prove, not just to other people, but also to ourselves, makes all the difference.”

MLS Reserves: What's the locker room like now that Jimmy Conrad is gone and Heath Pearce is out with injury?

Michael Lahoud: “Jimmy is one of a kind. He’s a well-respected guy, not just for the tenacity and experience he brought to each practice and game, but also for the way he can relate to almost every guy in the locker room with one experience or another. Although he’s not with us a player these days, his presence in the locker room acts as an extra bridge between the coaches and the players. “

“Fortunately for us, Heath is on his way to getting back in the team. Throughout the year he’s proven his worth to the team with a steady display at center back.“

MLS Reserves: How did your time at Wake Forest University prepare you for the professional game? How about your time with the Carolina Dynamo?

Michael Lahoud: “My time at Wake Forest is one that will remain very special to me. The professional manner in which the program is structure does a very good job to prepare players for the professional game. I think the number of recent Wake Forest players in the MLS boasts of the preparations of the program. PDL is a competitive league that gives young, collegiate players an insight in the professional game by allowing them against professionals and former professionals. The Carolina Dynamo is an organization I spent many good summers with.”

MLS Reserves: For those Chivas fans who don’t know you that well, how do you spend your free time? What do you do from soccer away from the field?

Michael Lahoud: “I spend my free time doing things that can relax my mind. I try to vary it between being active in the community whenever possible and also resting for the pending training or game ahead. One thing I enjoy doing off the field is making music. Listening to music has always been a way to express myself outside of soccer. Being able to make my own music is a release from the now and again stresses of soccer. With the help of my friends Chuck Chujindu and Justin Braun, I was fortunate enough to release a song last fall called “Livin’ The Life”. Who knows, maybe another song might be on its way. Right now my attention is on soccer though.”

MLS Reserves: Thank you very much for your time Michael. All the best the rest of the season.

It seems clear that regardless of the record for Chivas USA, Michael Lahoud remains a motivated and positive person. After being drafted 9th overall in the 2009 MLS Superdraft, Michael remained a part of Chivas USA. His work with MLS W.O.R.K.S. in HIV prevention is most noted. He has received Humanitarian of the Month by MLS on more than one occasion. More players could benefit from this attitude.