As the name indicates, Aurora Youth Soccer Club has a clear focus on the youth section, but as Executive Director Jimmy Brennan notes - joining League1 Ontario's senior men's and women's divisions is an important part of a high-performance player's final stages of development.
"Our development essentially used to end at 18 as there wasn't really anywhere for players to play after that age, and so we had players going to other clubs," said Brennan.
"Basically we know we have some great coaches and staff, and we wanted to keep the players in the club and have the senior end of the pathway."
Located to in the north-east of Toronto, Aurora is a suburban York region community with a remarkable amount of involvement in the game.
"[Aurora] is a smaller town, but it actually has one of the highest per capita player counts in Canada," noted Brennan. "It has a population count of 55,000, and at least 5,000 are in the club."
A native of neighbouring Newmarket, Brennan spent his youth developing in the region before playing men's level in Woodbridge and moving on to a 12-year professional career in England with Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City and Southampton. Brennan finished his career with hometown club, Toronto FC. Brennan also has 49 caps for Canada, and was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in November 2015.
"My vision was to create a pathway for these kids and give them every opportunity to be successful, whether that be with professional or national team aspirations."
"We're trying to provide every resource for these kids, and the goal for coming into League1 was to complete the set of options."
Aurora have a motto of "one style, one passion," which refers to a philosophical approach that standardizes the club's development of players. From the u8 to League1 levels, every player wears the same kit and plays the same style.
"We want our players to be playing in a 4-3-3," explains Brennan. "We think for development it's a great system to play, everyone is looking to get on the ball and play, and it's a great system for the overall development. Our youngest players can see the senior teams implement the lessons they are being taught at the junior levels. The seniors become an example to the rest."
"In turn, we want to get the players into our philosophy, and then down the line they can contribute themselves as coaches and community members here," he added.
"Not everyone is going to go to pro, university, and international, but if we can keep them here to continue supporting our club and educating the youth - it's great."
Aurora vs Peru Men's U-23, 2015
Aurora will bring through men's and women's teams, with the men's team in particular starting out as mixture of youth and experience.
"Right now the team will be a mixture of our products and players we are bringing in," said Brennan. "We've had a successful team in the Ontario Soccer League (OSL) that even played a friendly against Peru during last year's Pan-Am Games, and to begin we'll be using some of those players as well as youth products."
"In the long run, it will be the logical graduating platform for our OPDL and rep players."
Crediting the support of a very engaged community, an ambitious and educated board of directors, and professional development within the Aurora administrative staff with the recent addition of social media and sponsorship marketing coordinators - Brennan is optimistic for the future.
"Everything I've gained over my career, I'm looking to pass on to these kids here in Aurora, and the soccer administration community as well," he concluded. "It'd be a shame not to."