By: Brad Fougere

D.C. United striker Dwayne De Rosario, center, addresses young Ottawa soccer players

Youth soccer players flocked to Algonquin, Sun. Jan. 13, to learn from the nation’s top international as Dwayne De Rosario brought his DeRo United soccer clinic to Ottawa.

De Rosario, 34, from Scarborough, Ont., boasts a resume that includes Major League Soccer MVP, and four-time Canadian player of the year. He is also the all-time leading scorer for Canada.

“We heard that Ottawa is a rich soccer community,” he said before taking the field with more than 80 young players. The kids, aged 7-18 came, to work with the Toronto-based staff, as well as Greco Fitness trainers and local Ottawa Fury Soccer Club coaches. The players, though, were all focused on the decorated national team player.

His early soccer career took him to Europe to train in Germany after leaving his hometown Toronto Lynx. He cited the advancements in facilities, such as the covered dome at Algonquin, as “huge steps forward” for soccer development in Canada.

“When I first started, we didn’t have access to these types of facilities,” he said about the differences between developing in Canada then and now. The facilities allow for year long training schedules.

“If you look at the grassroots programs of Europe, it’s still ahead, that’s for sure,” De Rosario said of where the game stands in Canada, today. “If you look at the pro clubs in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and now Ottawa, soccer is booming and has taken some huge steps forward since I was at that level.”

“You have to be able to tap into talent at a young age, but, have an environment where they feel like they’re part of something,” he continued, discussing young players looking to play at the top level.

This was the second, recent high profile clinic in Ottawa. Four members of the women’s Olympic bronze medal soccer team visited in December.