Dwayne De Rosario, pictured here at a press conference with Toronto FC in 2014, will be in Whitehorse on Feb. 22 and 23 for two days of clinics and sessions with Yukon youth soccer players. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Dwayne De Rosario to visit Whitehorse

“I’m itching to learn more about Canadian culture and the Yukon is as Canadian as it gets”

Dwayne De Rosario is coming to Whitehorse.

The Canadian soccer superstar — the 2011 MLS MVP, a seven-time MLS all-star, four-time MLS Cup winner and member of Canada’s 2000 Gold Cup winning team — will be in Whitehorse on Feb. 22 and 23 for a busy weekend of sessions with both Team Yukon’s futsal teams for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games (AWG) as well as other youth players in the territory.

Organizer Sean Alden said the event, which is happening with the assistance of Sport Yukon, is meant primarily to provide a spark for the final month of training before the AWG.

“The idea behind it was to bring him in to kind of stimulate the environment and the players ahead of the Arctic Winter Games,” said Alden. “It will be Arctic Winter Games-focused, but (also opening up the event) to the first 100 Yukon youth players to register for a skill session.”

In addition to skill sessions, Alden said De Rosario will participate as a coach in exhibition games between AWG teams and answer questions from players.

Preparing for a major tournament, particularly in a place like the Yukon where fresh opposition can be hard to find, requires a tremendous amount of focus and energy — something Alden said guest coaches of all stripes can help inject into a team.

“It can become very mundane and monotonous,” said Alden of training for a major event. “Even in the lead-up to the tournament, I find it’s still difficult to maintain an upward trend of desire and passion and focus.”

De Rosario’s visit, then, should help players find a second wind.

“Because there is still such a timeframe between us training now as Arctic Winter Games teams and March, I’m concerned that they’re going to need something else to inspire them and to stimulate them. Peaking at the right time … it’s going to create a more stimulating high-performance environment.”

For his part, De Rosario told the News he’s keen to be in the Yukon.

“It’s actually my first time travelling to the Yukon,” said De Rosario. “I’ve only read about it in geography class, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”

De Rosario said he knows it’ll be cold and he knows he has a chance of seeing the northern lights, but everything else will be a surprise.

“I’m very interested in seeing how people live there,” said De Rosario. “(Coming) from Toronto, the ‘big city’ of Canada, I’m always interested to learn more about Canada. … I’m itching to learn more about Canadian culture and the Yukon is as Canadian as it gets.”

As far as soccer goes, De Rosario is serving as an ambassador for the upcoming 2026 World Cup that will be jointly hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico, and he said events like this serve to both inspire and grow the game in Canada.

“It’s important for us as a country, and as a developing soccer country, to tap into the environment and communities across Canada,” said De Rosario. “You never know who you could find there. There is talent all over. I know that is talent in the Yukon and it’s not just about soccer — it’s about personal and individual development as well as showing kids there is a path here in this sport.”

That idea of personal development speaks to the overall value De Rosario sees in sport.

“Sports is a great avenue to keep kids grounded, keep them focused, keep them disciplined and respectful,” said De Rosario.

With just over a month until he arrives in Whitehorse, De Rosario did offer some advice for Team Yukon as the training and preparation continues.

“Work hard. Now is the time you really want to start gearing up and preparing yourself as much as possible,” said De Rosario. “Take care of your body and train the right way. Make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared.”

Alden said posters with more details about the event will soon start appearing around Whitehorse and that information about registration for players not on AWG rosters will be available soon on the Sport Yukon website. The event will be free of charge for those who sign up.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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