By February 21, 2013 2 Comments Read More →

MLS’ Michael Lahoud: From Philly to South Africa

>

Michael Lahoud took a trip to South Africa during this past MLS off-season. Below he shares with us the reason of his trip, how it all went, and what he learned from his adventure. Check out the video then be sure to read his humbling story.

[youtube O0XQZ_6BWhc]

Last summer, as I was adjusting to my new surroundings in Philadelphia, I felt a need for something. The word “need” isn’t nearly as fitting for what I felt; it was more of a craving. I craved an adventure, an expedition that could take place outside the confines of the place I now live. When my recent trip to South Africa fell in my lap, I was reluctant to jump on it at first because it was a journey into the unknown, but now I can tell you it’s a trip that has greatly impacted me for the better.

Prior to this trip, I had never been on a mission trip before. In addition, I had never been out of the country for something outside of purely playing soccer. I had intended to go to South Africa as Michael Lahoud, the soccer player; instead, I entered the country as Michael Lahoud, the man. This adventure was a bit personal for me since it was the first time I’ve had a chance to go back to Africa. Although I didn’t venture to my native country of Sierra Leone, it was a massive step towards my hopes of returning there one day.

Mike Lahoud takes a second to relax in South Africa. Credit: Mike Lahoud

 

If I could use one word to describe my experience in South Africa, the first word that comes to mind is humility. I had to be humbled before going on this trip. I never realized how hard it could be as a man to ask for help. The fundraising process taught me that. There were times where I didn’t think I was going to raise enough funds to be able to go on this trip, and there were times when it was no doubt in my mind that it would happen. The process was a rollercoaster ride that went to the brink of the morning of the trip. Without humility, I don’t think I would have as much appreciation for just being there in the first place.

There were many experiences that came my way, but I’d like to share a few distinct ones. I got to walk alongside another professional soccer player from South Africa. His name is Ryan Chapman, a striker currently playing for Wits Football Club in Johannesburg. I got to live with him, interact with his close friends outside of soccer, watch a few days of training, hang out with his teammates and sit amongst some extremely distinguished people in the South African soccer world like Aaron Makoena and Stanton Fredericks. The really cool thing is that what started out as an encounter with Ryan is now turning into the beginning of a friendship.

One evening, we decided to go to watch a match between Bidvest Wits and Mamalodi Sundowns at Bidvest Stadium at the University of Witswaterand on the outskirts of Jo’burg. It was awesome to go support Ryan and his teammates, and get a closer look at the level of South African soccer. We weren’t disappointed by what we saw on the pitch. The game was fast-paced and aggressive, boasting lots of skills all over the pitch irrespective of whether players were defending or attacking. The biggest thing I saw was how physically imposing some players are. It would be interesting to see how players in MLS would fare against teams in the South African PSL. I’d love to be on the field when that happens. In addition, we got to witness the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Soccer City. The Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are the two biggest clubs in the country and Soccer City, the venue for the last World Cup final, provided the perfect atmosphere for the match. Both teams battled it out to a 1-1 draw in front of 88,000 supporters. It gave me a taste of what a true derby means to countries around the world. For all the intensity on the pitch, and the fierce tradition between the fans, there was noticeably peaceful interaction and embracing amongst everybody there afterwards. It seemed like everybody in attendance was thrilled to have witnessed another wonderful spectacle on the field.

When I got to Johannesburg, I went with the mindset that most people from a first world country would come with; I came thinking I was going to help “fix” people’s lives in South Africa. What happened over the course of 11 days was that I found how I was the one being really affected by the people I encountered. I got to hear many powerful stories and even share my own. To be truly known is something we all fear but there is freedom in it. I became known on this adventure. I wasn’t expecting to do so but I got the chance to share my story; my journey of not only how I got to South Africa, but more importantly the journey of my life thus far. I am forever grateful for being able to go on this trip. The people of South Africa showed me a selflessness that can only be dreamed of here in the States. They had contentment with everyday life and some of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen to back it up. Even though I may not be able to see the impact our presence in South Africa has had since the time that has passed, I can tell you that this journey has taught me something special. There is great purpose in each day. Enjoy it! And enjoy it I did!

Follow Mike:

2 Comments on "MLS’ Michael Lahoud: From Philly to South Africa"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. In my experience, the missionary is the one most impacted and changed forever. We are but vessels being shaped by God every day, the situations you put yourself in will impact your entire life. Many future blessings to you Mike, I know they will be bountiful,

    Your friend,

    Aaron

  2. Rick says:

    Great story. When I went to Africa (Kenya) a couple years back, I met a lot of people there doing missionary work. Coming from the west, Africa was a truly unbelievable experience. I had a great time and was there for a full month. Would love to go to S. A. and have that experience as well. Looking forward to going back to Kenya again some day considering my wife is from there.

Post a Comment