In a bid to promote education and sports, Portland Timbers utility player Lawrence Olum launched the Lawrence Olum foundation in 2017 and one year on, the Kenyan international is hoping to inspire the youth of his country of birth to succeed both on and off the pitch.
The foundation which incorporates football, volleyball and basketball players, aims at enhancing a healthier future through education and sport.
The idea of the foundation came to him because of his desire to give back to the community back at home where he grew up.
"I have been supporting kids in my neighborhood for a long time even when I was back in college,” the 34 year old told Major League Soccer (MLS) Players Association.
“I used to ask my coaches for old uniforms, teammates for old cleats (which I still do) to take back to guys I played with or maybe to small teams in my neighborhood. Over time having this platform of playing in the MLS made me and my friends think about how we can improve and give back to the community that made us who we are. So in early 2017, we decided to make something legitimate that we want to see become significant in Kenya.”
Having done well in both football and education earning a scholarship at NAIA University located in Creve Coeur, a St. Louis suburb, Olum believes that through his foundation, youngsters can learn that one can excel in both by striking a balance.
"The main goal of LOF is to promote education and sports. Being a collegiate athlete made me realize you can do both. Someone can actually do both and I am a testimony to that. We want to inspire kids to see that they don’t have to give up one for the other. With good balance and guidance, they can achieve both an education at whatever level and still be able to enjoy sports," he added.
In a period of five years, Olum wants his foundation to be a top organization, with good infrastructure and systems that will help make it a path for youth who wish to pursue higher levels of education within Kenya and abroad through sports.
"I want to see the foundation as a major source of inspiration to a lot of kids in Kenya. We want to be a path or guidance for kids who wish to pursue higher levels of education within Kenya and abroad through sports. In a nutshell, if we can produce the likes of “Lawrence Olum" we would have achieved what we started out to do. We would love to be an organization that brings structured organized sports to kids who want to use sports as a path to higher education or professionally. We want to provide a top level sports infrastructure and system that is on par with the rest of the developing world," he stated.
Olum made his international debut for Kenya in 2014 in an AFCON 2015 qualifier against Comoros in which Harambee Stars won 1-0 and has won three more caps since then.
He has spent his entire professional career in America, playing for the likes of Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota Thunder, St. Louis Lions among others.