Ryan Robinson also hopes to play for Canada one day
By Mark Newman, News Staff
He would love to play on a Canadian World Cup team one day.
Ryan Robinson is also hoping his prowess on the soccer pitch will eventually lead to a university scholarship and then a spot on the roster of Toronto FC or another Major League Soccer team.
The 13-year-old St. Michael Catholic Elementary School student certainly appears to be on the right track.
After four standout years playing rep soccer with the Mountain Hamilton Youth Soccer Club, Robinson is kicking the ball around this year as a member of the Toronto FC Youth Academy’s U13 team.
“There was two years of trying out,” said Robinson, who was picked for the team in March.
He began playing soccer at age five and has never looked back.
“My mom kept wanting me to play hockey, but I just fell in loved with soccer,” Robinson said.
Robinson noted his quest to join the elite soccer organization included three trips a week to Downsview Park in Toronto where he competed against some of the best young soccer players in the province for a spot on the team.
He credits hard work and participation at a number of soccer clinics for getting him to the next level, which now includes five or six trips a week to Toronto for training and games.
The U13 team plays up a division, mostly against 14-year-old players in the Ontario Youth Soccer league.
While they have only one win and one draw in nine games, Robinson said the experience has been invaluable, although the size and speed of the opposing players has taken some getting used to.
“They’re teaching us to keep possession (of the ball) while moving forward,” Robinson said.
His battle to get to the elite level has not been without a few hurdles.
There was a foot injury last season and Robinson fractured the fibula in his left leg when he rolled his ankle about six weeks ago.
Luckily there was very little ligament damage and with the help of physiotherapy he has been back on the field practicing but has not been allowed to play in a game.
Robinson, who scored 27 goals as captain of the MHYSC squad last season and netted one goal in six games prior to the injury this year, is hoping to resume game action in the coming days.
“I want to try and score one goal a game,” said Robinson, one of three forwards on the team that includes three midfielders, four defenders and a goalkeeper.
Robinson said his job is to cross the ball over to another forward for a shot on goal or to take the shot himself if he can cut in past the defender.
Anthony Venneri, who coached Robinson at MHYSC the past four years, is not surprised the Mountain youth has advanced to the youth academy level.
“He’s very skillful on the ball,” Venneri said. “Great one-on-one moves and very fast.”
Venneri said Robinson was also one of his most dedicated players who was often the first player on the pitch before practice and the last one to leave.
While many elite level sports teams charge players hundreds or thousands of dollars in registration and sponsorship fees, the youth’s father Shawn Robinson noted Toronto FC does not charge players who make the team.
“Everything is paid for including full dinners (after games and practices),” said Shawn, who noted he also gets gas money from the organization for driving his son to all of the games, practices and day-long events, some of which require getting up at 5:30 a.m.
“Toronto FC is top class,” he said.