November 8, 2017 - North American Soccer League (NASL)
Midfielder raised money for Human Rights Campaign in 2017
NEW YORK - North Carolina FC midfielder Austin da Luz entered the 2017 North American Soccer League (NASL) season with a cause in mind. He went out and created Playing For Pride, which ended up a worldwide fundraiser to support the Human Rights Campaign.
Following da Luz's lead, players from clubs in North America and across the world agreed to donate money for appearances, goals, and other statistics, and supporters had the opportunity to match those donations. Over the course of the 2017 season, Playing For Pride raised over $12,000.
Da Luz's initiative raised more than just money, though. It created awareness and generated support for the LGBTQ community. Leagues, clubs, players, and coaches from across the globe also responded to the Playing For Pride initiative, showing their support on social media.
The community involvement of the club's longtime midfielder went beyond his fundraising for the Human Rights Campaign. The 30-year-old veteran also spends his time off the field as a staff member at the Accelerator School, which mixes soccer and cutting-edge academics for young players. Da Luz was in charge of a 21st Century technology class, with a focus on digital skills, including video editing.
During the year, da Luz, who has deep ties to North Carolina, also played an integral role in the club returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012. The former Wake Forest University star played in 26 games (all starts) and 2,289 minutes. He scored twice and contributed two assists.
2014: Chris Nurse (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
2015: Drew Beckie (Ottawa Fury FC)
2016: Michael Lahoud (Miami FC)