Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

LEARNING FROM A PRO – Former Canadian national team player and MLS star Dwayne De Rosario leads a training session for the juvenile AWG Futsal Girls at the Canada Games Centre on Saturday morning.

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Photo by John Tonin

EXPERIENCING THE CULTURE – Dwayne De Rosario does traditional First Nation dances with Kwanlin Dün Councilor Sean Smith during the Cultural Presentation portion of the weekend. The junior can-can dancers also performed for De Rosario.

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Photo by John Tonin

MEET AND GREET – The Yukon’s young soccer players and fans had the opportunity to get Dwayne De Rosario’s autograph on Saturday.

Dwayne De Rosario visits Whitehorse

Canadian soccer star Dwayne De Rosario paid a visit to the territory over the weekend to lead practice sessions for the Yukon’s soccer players at the Canada Games Centre.

By John Tonin on February 24, 2020

Canadian soccer star Dwayne De Rosario paid a visit to the territory over the weekend to lead practice sessions for the Yukon’s soccer players at the Canada Games Centre.

De Rosario came to prominence in the 2000s during his Major League Soccer (MLS) career.

He played for the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, his hometown team Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.

In 2014, De Rosario returned to Toronto FC. He is a four-time MLS Cup champion and in 2011, he was named MLS Most Valuable Player. He is the seventh-leading scorer in MLS history with 104 goals.

Internationally, he has represented the Canadian national team from 1998 to 2015 and is their leading all-time scorer with 22 goals in 81 games.

De Rosario is a 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion and four-time Canadian Player of the year.

De Rosario retired after the 2014 season but returned to the game in 2018, joining the Mississauga MetroStars of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL).

When De Rosario spoke to the Star Saturday, he said he hadn’t gotten to explore much of Whitehorse yet, but he did have a good first impression.

“I got here late last night so haven’t seen much of the city but from what I’ve seen it seems like a nice small town,” said De Rosario. “But most importantly it’s nice to work with the young kids today, there is some nice young talent, and seeing what talent is here in Yukon especially at the grassroots level.

“I’ve always wanted to explore Canada a little bit more and when I had the opportunity to come to Yukon I couldn’t turn that down.”

Although he hadn’t gotten out to see the city when he spoke to the Star, organizers brought the culture to him.

The junior can-can dancers put on a wonderful performance and so did the Kwanlin Dün song and dance group who got De Rosario up and dancing.

“It was nice to see some of the First Nation community greet us this morning with some early morning exercise, slash, cultural dance. I burned my thighs a little bit.

“It was good to expose not only myself but the community to that. To be out here and see what Yukon is all about it’s been a good first day.

“It was fun but it was a lot of work, burned my thighs. I appreciate what they’ve done for Canada in terms of culture.”

He had a packed schedule full of training sessions for the kids. De Rosario said he was working on the fundamentals of soccer.

“(We’ve done) touch technique,” said De Rosario. “We ran 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 2 and some ball mastery stuff, just working with a lot of their footwork, agility and game awareness.

“The basics. Repetition and basics, fundamentals is very important especially at the grassroots level. The more reps they do and the more comfortable they get with the ball at their feet the better off their development.”

De Rosario said he came to the Yukon with no expectation but was happy with the talent level of the players.

“I was pleasantly impressed,” said De Rosario. “I didn’t come here with any expectations. I just came to work with the kids and see where they’re at, what level.

“Obviously Yukon is a territory that might feel overlooked in the sense of access and availability to professional or national team programs.

“Hopefully, with Vancouver and the Whitecaps program being so close, they are looking at the development here in the Yukon. All it takes is one to make it and to make a name for it and open the doors for the other kids.

“There is obviously a lot of talent here. It’s about developing and nurturing that talent to make sure they get the proper pathway.”

The Yukon does have players currently playing in the Whitecaps system.

To see the level of passion for the sport in the Yukon, made De Rosario excited.

“It’s refreshing, really,” said De Rosario. “There are places outside of Ontario that don’t take full advantage of professional players like myself. Toronto is very fortunate because there are a lot of us, there are a lot of guys with great careers.

“We are there. There are still programs that don’t utilize us as much as possible. To have the opportunity to come to Yukon and see what you guys are doing here, it’s refreshing and it’s good. I think soccer is in a good place right now.”

In 2026, Canada, along with Mexico and the U.S. will host the FIFA World Cup. De

Rosario said it’s important for Canada to have a good showing as host and as competitors.

“As an ambassador for 2026 it’s my job to help push those initiatives,” said De Rosario.

“For me, coming out, I came here independently, is me trying to help grow the game and awareness of the sport.”

During the middle of the day Saturday, there was a meet and greet with De Rosario.

Kids lined up in the CGC Flexihall to meet De Rosario, who signed autographs and took photos with the future generation of players.

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