At 33 years old, FC Motown defender Julius James has found a leadership role, a love for philanthropy, and yet another big stage.
As FC Motown prepares to take on Miami FC 2 in the 2018 NPSL National Championship on August 4, James found himself reflecting on how he got to Morristown. It was something as simple as catching up with an old friend and teammate, FC Motown midfielder Dilly Duka.
“Dilly and I had went to lunch and we were talking about each of our teams and playing in the NPSL and just catching up on life and stuff,” James said. “I was just blessed to be able to call Dilly up and ask him to talk to the owners for me.”
James fit in seamlessly in Morristown after signing. Head Coach Sacir Hot has referred to the veteran as the missing piece of the staunch Motown defense that marched through the NPSL regular season and playoffs.
“His ability to lead our defense is one of the main reasons why we have made such a deep run into the playoffs,” Hot said. “He’s a vocal leader that plays with passion, organizes the team and puts his body on the line. He’s a last of a dying breed at the center back position.”
James brings MLS and U-17 World Cup experience to the table at FC Motown. After his collegiate years at UConn, James admitted that transitioning to the professional game was difficult. That quickly changed.
He learned how to be professionally fit for longer seasons while with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In Houston with the Dynamo, he learned the importance of talking and communicating with teammates on the pitch. The game is now played more in his mind than physically. He thinks a few steps ahead and works to guide younger teammates.
James may have been on his biggest stage way back in 2001. He was on the pitch against international powers with Trinidad & Tobago at the U-17 World Cup in 2001, before he made his way to the United States and through many levels of the country’s soccer structure.
“I think my life, my play in soccer from when I started has been my greatest accomplishment,” James said. “My greatest accomplishment is still being built. It’s still going on. I am not sure where my life would have been if I didn’t start playing soccer.”
While back in Trinidad training for a short time recently, James and some of his countrymen decided that they could do better with their time. Many of them, including James are from areas that weren’t easy to grow up in. They established the Can Bou Play Foundation in May, which will involve mentoring and education programs at dozens of schools, children’s homes and soccer academies along with creating education programs with an emphasis on sports and the stories of local soccer players.
James is grateful to God for the blessings and opportunities that he’s been given. He enjoys giving back not only in his home country, but wherever he goes. FC Motown has partnered with James in ventures like collecting gently-used cleats and other soccer gear, as well as interacting with youth in the community.
“To be around the kids that might not have the opportunity to pay money to play soccer, for example,” James said. “We try to get into the orphanages and we’re trying to get into the differently-abled places and schools where we could just spend time and give back in an intangible way. That makes me really happy. That’s something that I’m grateful that this sport has allowed me to do.”
For James, he’s found a balance between life on and off the pitch. His next task will be winning an NPSL National Championship for FC Motown, a club that has gone all in with him, just as he has throughout his career on and off the field.
“It’s going to be a battle,” James said. “All the games that we’ve played up until now have been battles for us. We are expecting nothing less from Miami.”