In the world of soccer, there isn’t much that Michelle Akers hasn’t accomplished. She was the leading scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 1991, where she scored the winning goals for the U.S. team in the final match. She was part of the World Cup teams of 1995 and 1999, the latter culminating in another title for the U.S., as well as the gold-medal-winning 1996 Olympic team.
Akers retired from professional soccer in 1999, and today she channels her passion toward promoting animal welfare through Michelle Akers Horse Rescue and Outreach, Inc. The organization provides sanctuary or rehabilitation for horses in need on Akers’ eight-acre property near Atlanta, Georgia.
When discussing her love for horses, Akers sounds just like any other former horse kid. She was inspired by her childhood love of the novel, The Black Stallion, and the longing to have a bond with a horse the way the fictional hero of the story, Alec, connected with The Black. She started riding as a hobby while she was still a pro player, and after her retirement, the horses became her primary focus.
Akers personally financed her rescue operation, purchasing the small farm in 2009. But shortly after moving in, the property was flooded from an unprecedented rainfall in the area. She rescued her horses, but continued flooding nearly destroyed the property, and she had to rebuild nearly from scratch.
Unlike many professional athletes, female soccer players have infamously been underpaid, and Akers went through her savings quickly. Ultimately, she made the decision to sell memorabilia from her career in order to rebuild her horse rescue. But thanks to private donations–many from her former coach, teammates and members of the soccer community–the rebuilding has been successful.
Today, Michelle Akers’ farm is home to several horses, dogs, and occasionally other rescued animals ranging from pigs to goats to roosters.
Find out more about Michelle Akers and her Horse Rescue at MichelleAkers.com.