Kei Kamara of Sierra Leone Photo: Jay LaPrete/AP

Kei Kamara of Sierra Leone
Photo: Jay LaPrete/AP

Who is Kei Kamara? That seems easy enough. He is a Major League Soccer (MLS) player from Sierra Leone.  That’s not wrong, but there’s more. Though soccer is a big part of his life, there’s more to Kamara than just what you see on the field. He is a fierce competitor, a loving father, a world-class humanitarian, and an entertainer.

Last season, Kei Kamara tied for most goals in MLS with 22 in the regular season and was top goalscorer in the playoffs with four. He was named Columbus Crew SC’s most valuable player and to the MLS best 11 team.

You can never accuse him of not giving his all. Once he steps on that field, he is in attack mode.  Columbus made it all the way to the MLS Cup final last season, but lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers. Kamara scored the Crew’s only goal. “I enjoy the game, I want to play, I want to score goals, but right now my focus is just winning a cup,” said Kei, talking about his goals for this season. The Cup is the main goal for Kamara.

Kei Kamara in action in a MLS match. Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP

Kei Kamara in action in a MLS match. Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP

2015 was an eventful year for him off the field as well. Kei had his first child last year with wife Kristin Kamara.  “They say when you have a girl you treat her like a princess and that’s what I’m doing. She gets the best side of me, the soft side of me,” Kamara said.

Kei believes his daughter is helping him get more rest this season, since he goes home more often to lay low with his family. In Africa, there is a strong emphasis on family, and Kamara considers the start of his own family as his greatest achievement thus far.

Kei Kamara battles for the ball during the 2015 MLS Cup final. Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kei Kamara battles for the ball during the 2015 MLS Cup final. Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 MLS Works Humanitarian of the Year award was given to Kei.  You don’t win this award by doing the bare minimum.  You win it by servicing the community and showing excellence on the field.  This is exactly what Kamara did last season.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a humanitarian. To me it’s not a job, I’m just being myself. Helping out here in America and helping out in Sierra Leone,” Kei said talking about the award’s meaning to him.  He has been working with the Schools for Salone initiative since 2005.  This program has been working to rebuild schools in war-torn areas of Sierra Leone. To date, 16 schools have been built and two libraries.

Let’s shift the subject back to the field. One could argue that Kamara has some of the best goal celebrations in MLS. He uses props, dances, and gets his teammates involved.  With the amount of scoring he did last season there was plenty to celebrate.

“It’s just part of my personality. I love to dance, I love to have fun, and I love to connect with my teammates,” Kamara said when discussing his celebrations.

Kei Kamara has one of the most vibrant personalities in the league.  He is a star and he is not afraid to shine.  Although Columbus Crew SC is off to a slow start, with two losses and a draw, there is more than enough time to recover.

It’s far too early to tell if the Sierra Leonean veteran will eclipse his accomplishments from last season, but he is at a good pace with one goal after three games played.  The focus is there for him and he is more than up to the challenge.  Columbus will be in action again April 2nd, looking to get their first win against FC Dallas.

This blog post was written by VOA Intern Rick Narcisse. Listen to Rick’s interview with Kei Kamara: