As President and Chair of the Toronto Azzurri Soccer Club we wish to extend a warm welcome to all who attend the Toronto Azzurri Wall of Fame Induction Gala.
As our Club continues along its philanthropic and benevolent journey we are reminded of the fact that we continue to serve the community each day, thanks to those who paved the way for us. Indeed, one cannot successfully proceed along a chosen path without remembering where we came from.
The Toronto Azzurri Wall of Fame Induction Gala is an evening that we want to honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the creation and formative years of the T.A.S.C. as well as to the evolution of the game of soccer, both nationally and internationally.
Thank you to all inductees! We are indeed proud and privileged to count you as friends of the Azzurri. Each year’s event would not be possible without your presence nor without the generosity of many other individuals and corporations.
Robert Iarusci, Chairman
Toronto Azzurri Soccer Club
Pioneers / Builders
Alberto DiGiovanni Pasquale Fioccola
Joe Mancuso Ralph Ciccia
Frank Riga Carmelo Barbieri
Coaches / Managers
Alberto was born in Roccamorice(PE) in the region of Abruzzo, Italy. In 1963, he left Italy to join his family in Toronto. He attended the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s college, graduating with Hons B.A. and eventually earning a Masters Degree in Italian Language and Literature in 1973.
Alberto has been a champion of the perserverence and promotion of the Italian culture and language for the Italian community primarily in the GTA geography. He has served as President for many cultural organizations such as the Dante Alighieri Society of Toronto. the Multicultural Theatre Assn. of Ontario and the Metro Communities for International Language. In 1976, Alberto founded the Centro Scuola/Canadian Centre, an institution to promote Italian language through educational and cultural programming with its hub located at the Columbus Center(Lawrence Ave. & Dufferin St.)
In 1983, following Italy’s World Cup Soccer victory in Spain, Alberto gave birth to a Heritage Soccer Tournament involving 32 teams from the GTA. Its success inspired Alberto to create the Centro Scuola Sport Program which included the formation of the C.S. Azzurri SC. Between 1985-2001. the C.S. Azzurri teams won the prestigious Ontario Cup 15 times! In fact,sparked by annual league and cup trophies, C.S. Azzurri suddenly became the most decorated youth Club in Ontario.. Alberto also organized the participation of C.S. Azzurri teams to participate in the ‘Giochi della Gioventu’ international Tournament winning on three occassions. C.S. Azzurri was the first N.A. Club to be invited to the world renown Viareggio and Beppe Viola youth Tournaments in Italy.
Together with the Italian Federazione Gioco Calcio, Alberto started up a Soccer School featuring the legendary Francesco Rocca as the head coach. Alberto is very proud to haave been one of two people outside of Italy to have ever been presented the ‘Stella D’Oro al Merito Italiana’ given by CONI(Commitato Olympico Nazionale Nazionale Italiana).
In 2002, Alberto received the ‘Meriorius Service Award’ for his contributions to the growth of soccer in Ontario
Pasquale Fioccola was one of Toronto’s most passionate Soccer builders. He fought constantly for his community youth and the local soccer player.
Born in Marigliano(NA) Italy, Pasquale arrived in Toronto January 1959. He quickly got a job as a Car washer on Brock Ave and then a few months later gained employment at a local Body Shop where he learned the trade. In the ’70’s Pasquale also became a Spray Painter trouble Shooter for the RM Paint Co. until he opened up Milford Auto Collision in 1979.
Pasquale loved soccer,espescially Napoli. He also loved working with his community youth. Pasquale lived on Pauline Ave in the ’60’s and in association with the parish priest from St. Sebastian Church, he built a friendship that saw him come up with a plan to stop young children from getting mixed up with the drug scene on the streets.
He started The Pauline Soccer Club that included 4 competitive Rep teams(12-15 yrs). He was able to assign these teams to quality coaches such as Angelo Angelucci, Lou Tozzi, Adam Pagliaroli and Guy Fracassi. Pasquale sponsored each team and the Registration fees for some of his players from ‘Challenged families’. Pauline Soccer Club Under 16 team which became the Toronto Jets, won the Metro Cup and went to Montreal for the Canadian Club Cup.
The following year, the Toronto Jets entered into the National Soccer League(NSL) and became one of the GTA’s strongest minor soccer systems. Pasquale is proud to have help develop many top players including Branco Segota. The Jets won the Canadian youth Cup in Vancouver.
In 1985, Pasquale and then Toronto Italia owner Rocco LoFranco agreed to have Pasquale take over the team and that year under coach Peter Pinizzotto and GM Pagliaroli, Italia won the treble(League/Cup/NAtional Club Championships). Pasquale also brought in the great Diego Maradona as guest player for Toronto Italia vs NSL All-Stars. Pasquale recalls his attempt to keep the NSL alive urging the league members to adopt a salary and Spending Cap but that motion was rejected at the Board table.
Pasquale thanks his family for their unwaivering support. He could never have realized his soccer goals without the love and support of his wife Maria and children Luigi, Luisa, Lucy and Rosa.
Honour, loyalty, passion & friendship. These personality traits define Joe Mancuso. A proud original youth soccer player with Westwood Young Generation of late ’60’s and currently a proud founding father of the NEW Toronto Azzurri SC(1999) serving on the Board of Directors for the past 21 years.
Born in a small village in Calabria, Italy in 1952, Joe came to Canada at the age of 15, the oldest of 6 siblings settling in downtown Toronto living with his grandparents. Joe attended Western Tech high school and with his lifelong best friend, Orazio DeCiantis, starred for the school’s soccer team. He became the City’s MVP player and was named on the All Star Team.
Joe’s most memorable youth memory was playing with the Westwood Mio Majors under Mario Perruzza. Joe was a midfield leader and named captain and team MVP. It was a star studded lineup including future Canadian Nationals Carmine Marcantonio & Carmelo Barbieri that captured the Canadian NAtional Club title in Edmonton.
Joe’s soccer career saw him often called up with Westwood’s Pratola White Stars and Toronto Italia senior teams before he was traded to the Hamilton Italo Canadians playing alongside “Wall of Fame’ inductees Peter Pinizzotto and Frank Riga. In 1974, with local stars Cipriani, Mattachione, DeCiantis and Carinci, Mancuso played with Sora Club competing in the very competitive T&D top Division.
All through the eighties & nineties, Joe stayed aligned to his Toronto Azzurri friends via senior soccer and in 1999 was one of the architects on the NEW Toronto Azzurri Club Constitution laying down the roots for Club Vision, Mission & Mandate. Today, Joe continues to be a Club leader creating and executing Cultural, Educational and Sport Programming at the Toronto Azzurri Youth Sport Village. Joe’s greatest achievement in life has been with his wife Lina of 45 years raising 3 children and enjoying their 3 grandchildren.
Ralph is the current president of the T.A.S.C. Joined the Azzurri family in the year 2000 after receiving confirmation of the club’s intention to create a Community Centre of Education, Cultural and Sport activity aimed at assisting At Risk Youth from the Jane & Finch area.
Born in Cinquefrondi, Reggio Calabria, on July 14, 1949, Ralph came to Canada with his brother Michael, his mother Marianna and stepfather Salvatore in March, 1966.After spending the summer working in manufacturing in Toronto and picking tobacco in Delhi, Ontario , Ralph convinced the principal of Bloor Collegiate Institute to allow him to enrol in grade 10. He completed grade 13 in 1970 as one of eight Ontario Scholars.
After receiving his BA from the University of Toronto, Ralph took a year off to work as a conveyancer at Cocomile & Feldman, Barristers & Solicitors, where he “ was shown the ropes” by Gus Mandarino and to a lesser extent by Luca Tomanelli. Ralph remembers fondly that the fourth floor at 1710 Dufferin Street was occupied by Sam Ciccolini and Masters Insurance.
After receiving his LLB in 1977 from Windsor University he completed his Articles with Gambin & Bratty, was admitted to the Bar in the spring of 1979 and opened his law practice in May of the same year. He recently retired after serving thousands of clients and forging countless business and personal relationships.
Ralph has proven to be an invaluable addition to the Azzurri, a tireless force with a clear and strong vision to help children with financial, social and health challenges. He has a particular soft spot for orphans, having become an orphan himself at the age of five.
The completion of the Azzurri Clubhouse remains the most significant example of Ralph’s strength and dedication.
Ralph remains a member of the Humber River Foundation, a founding and the current secretary of the Calabrian Benevolent Association ( the C.B.A.O. donated $500,000.00 to the construction of the Humber River Hospital and currently assists seniors with dementia ). Between his business and personal lives Ralph found the time to raise $100,000.00 for the Sick Kids Hospital NICU department ( through his “ Ralph Ciccia Kick 4 The Kids “ Soccer challenge ) and over $40,000.00 for the Princess Margaret Hospital by participating in the Epic Ride To Conquer Cancer to Niagara Falls.Ralph insists on emphasizing that none of his accomplishments would have been possible without the love and support of his wife of 44 years, Maria ( Lina ), and his daughters Frances, Michelle, Giulia and Daniela.
Ralph as we keeping reminding our members “WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IT WITHOUT YOU.”
Frank Riga has been a soccer leader in the Hamilton and Southern Ontario region as a player, coach, and administrator for the past 55 years. Born in Mondolfo, PU, Italy, Frank immigrated to Canada at the age of 11. In High School, Frank was an all round athlete excelling in soccer, cross country racing, and high school football, where he received All Star honors in 1964.
Frank’s senior career began in 1966, debuting with the triple champion Hamilton Superga of the Ontario Inter City Soccer League (OICSL). In 1970, Frank’s Hamilton Italo Canadians won the Ontario Cup and was named OICSL MVP in 1971, before a successful 6 year stint with the Hamilton Italo-Canadians of the National Soccer League (NSL).
His best years were in 1972 with the legendary Fiorigi Pagliuso as coach, and in 1974 when Frank was Italo Canadian’s MVP, reinforcing his reputation as an outstanding defender. In 1977, Frank led FF Binbrook, of the Southern Ontario League, to three consecutive league titles. He went on to coach the Saltfleet Women’s team in the Elite Division of the OWSL, winning the League and Spectator Cup. Frank also assisted McMaster women’s team to National Bronze in 1997.
Frank, post playing and coaching, has enjoyed a successful administration role in the Hamilton soccer community. He proudly was a founding member of the 1st Soccer Coaches Assn of Canada, and was the vice president of friend Mario Di Bartolomeo’s Hamilton Steelers. He founded, and chaired the Hamilton Soccer Council, that fought for fairness in media coverage, and improved city soccer facilities. Frank served as Director and Selection Committee Chair of the Hamilton and District Soccer Council, and was honored in 2015 by being inducted into its Hall of Fame.
Presently organizing a summer trip to Italy for Brock University men and women’s soccer teams.
In 1968, Ralph Pisani, coach of the Westwood Beavers(U13 discovered Carmelo playing in a pick-up game at Bickford Park in Toronto. Little did he know, Barbieri would become one of the GTA’s finest young soccer players ever!
Carmelo was gifted with the goal scoring touch and had a natural intuition of recognizing how to dominate his time and space to create and then finish opportunities. He was quickly identified by U18 Mio Majors coach Mario Perruzza in 1971. At only 15yrs old Carmelo helped his team capture the Canadian Championships in Edmonton that fall.
In 1972, Frank Pike, then coach of Canada’s U19 National Team, invited Carmelo to participate in the CONCACAF Tournament held in Mexico. Over a two-year period with this program, Barbieri scored 6 goals in 8 games. Eckhard Krautzen, Canada’s Men’s Team coach also invited Carmelo to play vs Bermuda in an international friendly. He also arranged for Carmelo to attend training that winter with German Club Bourussia Dortmund.
That year, Barbieri was the star striker for Fiorigi Pagliuso’s Mio Majors Team that was promoted to play in Toronto & District’s Premiere League. This team was Westwood’s Showcase group that included Marcantonio, Ariganello, Iarusci, D’Agostino, Rose and Plessas. In two years, Carmelo led the league as top scorer and helped his team win a League title and Ontario Cup. In 1973, Carmelo only 17 yrs old, was called up to play frequently with Toronto Italia in the National Soccer League(NSL). The following year, Barbieri placed second behind Serbian White Eagles Mike Stojanovic in League Scoring and in 1975 won the League Scoring title, was voted League MVP and helped Toronto Italia beat Victoria BC’s Firefighters 3-0 for the National Club Championship scoring 2 goals at York Stadium in front of 7500 people.
Barbieri was now poised to launch his career in Italy. He was invited to Milanello, A.C. Milan’s training center in ’74/’75 for 6 months. Just as he was ready to be positioned in a Serie B club, the Italian Federation decided to close its borders to foreign and ex pat players. Carmelo was able to spend over the next 10 years playing professionally with Serie C( Casertana, Monopoli, Barletta) and Serie D(LaVello, Irpinia, Ariana).
In the Italo Canadian Community of the GTA, there is no other photo journalist more recognized and revered as Tony Pavia. Born in Faeto(Foggia), Italy in 1950, Tony immigrated to Toronto in 1969 leaving his 5 brothers and sister behind to forge a new life.
Tony quickly lashed on to a competitive Toronto Sparta team and throughout the ’70’s was a strong contributor to the success of many local sides he played for. Tony remained involved in local soccer while forging his journalism career. He participated as a Board Member for the CISL and MISL Indoor Leagues and in 1985 he was named best manager of the Italian Soccer League.
In 1980, the year Tony became a Canadian citizen, he began his media career as the Sports Editor for ‘ Italian Life Bi-Weekly Newspaper’. In 1983, Tony joined the Corriere Canadese an was a strong contributor for local soccer for over 30 years. From 1984-2018, Tony was also the photo/reporter for Lo Specchio and Panorama Italo Canadian publications.
Tony’s career saw him cover almost every Sport, Political and Cultural event. Moreover, Tony has been recognized with many awards and acknowledgements in his lifetime body of work....from the Italian Hockey League, The Red Cross and the Maierato Club(1990)...Reporter of the Year in 1999 from the Ethnic Press...the Italian Gov’t honoring him with the Cavaliere dell’Ordine Stella D’Oro. Tony received recognition from the OSA(2005), Johnny Lombardi Heritage Award(2017) and Italian Congress ‘Spirit’ Award.
Tony covered the biggest Sporting events all these years both home and away...The Italian Super Cups in Washington and New York...Touring Serie’A’ teams Parma, Inter, Roma and Juventus, and Tony's proud to have photographed and interviewed Paolo Rossi, Roberto Bettege, Roberto Baggio, Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona, Rivera, Cruyff and Beckenbauer...just to name a few.
Peter is one of our most successful coaches/managers focusing on the development of high performance local youth. Today he is Woodbridge Strikers Technical Director. He was born in Sicily and his family moved to Switzerland. Peter joined the soccer academy of Brenne-Biel and eventually played on their senior team.
In 1968, he immigrated to Toronto where he played in the Westwood system with Pratola White Stars. Peter played throughout the seventies and eighties on strong competitive teams such as the Hamilton Italo Canadians of the NSL. Peter began his coaching career in 1991 coaching the Woodbridge Azzurri in the second division of the Toronto&District league. The following year Peter coached the Richmond Hill Kicks and in 1994 Peter directed Toronto Italia to the ‘double’ winning both league and cup titles. He was also recognized as ‘Coach of the Year’ in the CNSL.
After a year in Hamilton with the Italo Canadians, Peter returned to Toronto Italia under owner Pasquale Fioccola and in 1996 won the ‘double’ again. The year’s highlight was coaching Toronto Italia vs CNSL All Stars featuring guest player, Diego Maradona.
In 1997, when the USL A League granted the Toronto Lynx franchise. Pinizzotto was appointed the coach in its inaugural year. Peter assembled a strong complement of CNSL veterans and two young Canadians, namely Paul Stalteri and Dwayne DeRosario. Peter steered the Lynx over the next five years as coach and GM .
In 2004-2008, Peter worked with the Montreal Impact as Asst. and Head coach. His team amassed three League titles and won three Voyageur Cups. In 2009, Peter accepted the role as Technical Director at Woodbridge Strikers SC, a position he still holds today, eleven years later.
Peter’s accomplishments with Woodbridge include 2014 League 1 Coach of the Year. His teams in 2015 & 2017 won the League Cup and were League Champions in 2017 &2018.
In 2017, Peter was inducted into the York Region Soccer Hall of Fame.