Julius James joins Ft. Lauderdale Strikers
South Florida soccer fans can welcome a new Trini on the local circuit, as former Soca Warriors defender Julius James joins the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The 31-year-old James brings much-needed power to the Striker’s defensive side, as well a good mix of local and international exposure. Julius James has represented Trinidad and Tobago’s national team more than a dozen times after earning his first cap against Guyana in September 2008. He has also played across the North American circuit for team such as San Antonia Scorpions, Toronto FC and Carolina Railhawks.
The National Weekly sat down with the defender to talk about his inspiring career and anticipated future with the Strikers.
We’re looking forward to seeing you play in South Florida! What is Julius James looking forward to the most, playing here with the Strikers?
I love Florida. It’s really close to home and there are a lot of Caribbean folks here. And I’m really excited about working with the [Strikers] technical staff. There are really knowledgeable.
How did Julius James get into football in T&T? Did he have a mentor or role model?
I used to swim in Trinidad up until age 12, when I had to take a big entrance exam for secondary school, and my mum insisted that I take a break. But when I went back I lost all my fitness. All my friends were playing football, so I thought, let me try this. Within a year I was in the U17 national pool to go into the World Cup in 2001. I just fell in love with it. For mentors, in my younger years, I just wanted to be like the guys who could juggle the ball. I started to play close attention to my couches that helped me along the way, like Lester Young, my secondary school coach. From watching international football, I loved Fabio Cannavaro. I would tell people that I was Italian, even though I couldn’t speak it.
What has been Julius James most memorable moment in his career so far, and why?
Winning the Soccer Bowl with the San Antonio Scorpions in 2014, and getting drafted after my college career. But one of the biggest highlights – may not seem like much – was getting to play for University of Connecticut. They came to Trinidad to check out a striker on my team, and my coach told me they were interested in me too. They came the next year and took me. That was really the beginning, when I realized I could act achieve what I wanted to, make something of myself and take care of my family.
What advice would Julius James give budding players back home, dreaming of going professional in the States?
I want to tell the kids that it’s ok to dream. You’ll get doubters. It may come from friends, even your closest family members. But don’t pay attention to someone that doesn’t support you. Work hard, be disciplined, engulf yourself in what you want to do, and you can achieve anything, by the grace of God.
You’re also made an incredible recovery from your double leg fracture six months ago to come back in fighting form. What has Julius James personal journey been like to get to this point?
One quote that I kept remembering was that adversity introduces a man to himself. When you get an injury. It’s basically you and yourself. When you include God in that, your faith become stronger, your faith in your strength and capabilities. I’m not sure I would have healed as fast without that positivity.
How has Julius James been gelling with the new teammates on the field?
Gelling comes like second nature cause I really really like these guys. We have good banter so far, and I think the Florida Cup also pushed us into the fire, and that allowed us to gel really quickly. The only thing that’s left is paying attention to their movements on the field, what passes I can make for them, and what situations they’re comfortable with.