By Sean Delaney
The Toronto Azzurri Soccer Club was a bunch of young men who grew up in the 1960’s, and then stayed together over the decades through the game of soccer.
"We were mentored by great individuals who spent a lot of volunteer time to ensure we were not just coached on the game of soccer, but on life," said Robert Iarusci, chairman of the Toronto Azzurri Youth Sport Village.
Based on that wonderful story, Iarusci said, the Toronto Azzurri became the sport village it is today. In 1999 those 50 young men came together in the latter part of life – including 13 individuals that made national program teams – knowing they couldn't play as they did anymore and decided to continue by creating a new constitution for the club.
They developed a mandate to build a soccer centre of excellence.
"To build sustain and grow educational, cultural and sport programming for our community youth with a special focus on at risk and special needs children," Iarusci said.
Over last the 20 years, Iarusci and director/treasurer Ron Smale explained, the club executed the first phase of their new plan, fundraising for a structure. The main building opened in April of 2014.
"After we built the building, we had to make sure it was filled with activity," Smale said.
The group rents out their new facility, welcoming all kinds of programming.
"And we offer some of the lowest rates," Smale said.
They use their proceeds to ensure the grass is cut and resources are in a good state on their five acres of land.
Currently the membership is made up of 22 voting members, and approximately 25 general members and serves up to 1,000 kids from age four to 19. The group also houses a Special Olympics team called the Toronto Tornadoes.
You can find them online at:http://torontoazzurri.com