TORONTO – Given all the hoopla around Toronto FC’s signings of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, you’d expect Dwayne De Rosario to be champing at the bit to line up alongside his new teammates.
While De Rosario – embarking on his second go-around with his hometown club – is excited about playing with those veterans from England and the USA, he’s also looking forward to working with another recent TFC signing: Jordan Hamilton.
The 17-year-old striker graduated from the TFC Academy to the first team on Jan. 9 – coincidentally, the same day De Rosario was officially reintroduced to the local media. But that’s not the only connection the two share.
“He’s like me, he’s come from Scarborough, he’s come from my neighborhood,” De Rosario told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week.
It’s no coincidence supporters at BMO Field serenade the 35-year-old ex-TFC captain as the “man from Scarborough”; De Rosario takes intense pride in being from east-end Toronto, an area particularly hard hit by socioeconomic troubles.
And De Rosario sees his renaissance at TFC as an opportunity to not just help Hamilton personally, but to help change the outlook for young players growing up in Toronto’s less advantaged areas.
“I know, places like Scarborough, those kids sometimes feel overlooked,” said De Rosario. “That’s where the raw talent is. So I want to go dive into the nooks and crannies of those neighborhoods and start pulling out some of those kids that have the same qualities I have, or Jordan Hamilton has.”
De Rosario – who has plenty of experience helping kids at home and abroad through his foundation, DeRo United – says he is “definitely” looking forward to helping develop a new generation of local players.
With players such as Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio now regular contributors for the senior team – and new academy graduates Hamilton and Manny Aparicio rapidly advancing through the system – the process seems to already be underway. But in a city as large, diverse and soccer-mad as Toronto, De Rosario knows he’s uniquely positioned to help find even more gems for the Reds’ long-term plans.
“Having that relationship with the city, I’m definitely going to be adamant about creating an environment where we can get these young stars to come out and shine,” he said.