OTTAWA—Dwayne De Rosario’s Dero United Youth Soccer Tour kicked off its 2013 season at Algonquin College Soccer Facility Sunday morning with 85 local kids ready to improve their soccer skills.
De Rosario needs no introduction to the North American soccer landscape, being the all-time leading goal scorer for Canada’s men’s national team and one of the most recognizable players in Major League Soccer for over 10 years. Most recently in MLS, he won the golden boot and league MVP award in 2011.
In partnership with Greco Lean & Fit and the Ottawa Fury Soccer Club, De Rosario and his team of coaches and trainers gave the kids three hours of soccer, fitness, and nutrition instruction.
De Rosario is keen on giving back to the community and helping kids become self-confident and also developing players who can play in Canada’s national teams.
“It’s important to us to build good citizens for our community,” he said prior to the session as he explained the objective of the tour. “It’s a whole breakdown of trying to make better individuals that would be more confident.”
The more work with the ball, the better. The ball has to be your best friend.
“If, at the end of the day we can build a future star to represent our country, that would be awesome as well,” De Rosario said.
In the one-day session, the kids are not separated by skill levels like they would be in De Rosario’s intense Development and Power Training Program.
“A lot of it is trying to merge the really skillful kids with the kids that are new to the game and make it a very balanced fun environment where both kids can benefit,” De Rosario explained.
De Rosario brings experience from around the world, including Europe, where he spent two seasons with Germany’s FSV Zwickau. Canadian youth soccer development lags that of European and South American nations, and so gaining experience from these regions is critical to improving as a nation.
“I’ve been very blessed as a kid to have the opportunity to play and travel all across the world and particularly Europe and know how their youth structure is and how their coaching is and how they teach the kids about the game,” De Rosario said. “I use all that experience and compose it into one day.”
Fun and Self-Confidence
He spoke about how a lot of the soccer training here is based on playing games instead of developing fundamentals through repetition.
The kids developed their dribbling, passing, and attacking skills in a variety of drills supervised by Dero United’s coaches. De Rosario was very involved in showing the kids proper technique and providing more detailed instructions to the more gifted players.
De Rosario’s father was instrumental in his development as a youth, and some of his father’s suggestions are incorporated in the instructions to the kids.
De Rosario spoke about how his father was a firm believer in the style of play employed by Brazil and Netherlands of old with their rhythmic play.
“Play with rhythm, play and move, one-two touch, play with flair, but also having the self-confidence to take people on. Don’t be afraid to take people on, that’s what we try and encourage to these kids,” De Rosario explained.
While Canada lags other nations in development of youth in soccer, De Rosario recognizes that it comes down to not enough time with the ball at your feet.
“The more work with the ball, the better. The ball has to be your best friend,” De Rosario said. “We want to bring back that love and passion, that enjoyment back into the game.
“Our main goal is to inspire these kids and make them be self-confident and have fun and enjoy the game,” De Rosario said.
Road to Recovery
De Rosario is still on the road to recovery from a serious knee injury suffered while on duty for his country in Panama last September. He missed the rest of Canada’s World Cup qualification campaign as well as the remainder of D.C. United’s MLS season.
Prior to coming to Ottawa, he had an assessment done on his knee. The results were good.
“I still got to do some work on it, but am ready to represent my country toward the end of the month as we play Denmark and the USA and then ready to get back with D.C. United and start the [MLS] season off.”
But for the time being, De Rosario is continuing to grow the beautiful game in Canada during the difficult winter months. It was a rare opportunity to visit Ottawa as during the MLS season, which runs from March to November, Dero United’s training programs can generally only take place in cities that De Rosario visits as part of D.C. United’s schedule.
De Rosario is a player Canadian youth can look up to for his long list of accomplishments and generosity back toward the community. Developing soccer in Canada needs role models and icons like De Rosario to get involved at the grassroots level, and as such, his youth soccer tour is a very worthy project.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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