The Players: Christina Julien

How quickly can you jump? Well, when the national team calls, you better be able to jump pretty quickly. For young forward Christina Julien, it took her just a few hours from the time she was called to the time she was on a plane heading west to the Canadian national team camp organized by newly-hired head coach, Carolina Morace.

How quickly can you jump? Well, when the national team calls, you better be able to jump pretty quickly. For young forward Christina Julien, it took her just a few hours from the time she was called to the time she was on a plane heading west to the Canadian national team camp organized by newly-hired head coach, Carolina Morace.



That was February 2009. Julien was at school (James Madison University), playing table tennis with a friend when she received a call out of the blue from national assistant coach Andrea Neil. The invitation was Julien’s first to a national camp – at any level – so you can pardon her if she wasn’t fully prepared when the call came through.



Fortunately, Julien’s head coach David Lombardo was there to help. Julien said Lombardo “took care of everything,” contacting Julien’s professors while she just got on a plane and headed for the national camp in California. She arrived at two or three in the morning, then was up early for her first training session with the national team.



“It was scary and intimidating,” said Julien of her first camp with the national team.



Canada’s women’s national team has a strong core group of players that has been together for as long as 10 years dating back to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002. Most of the players have played in the national program at one level or another, be it under then-national coach Even Pellerud or national assistant and U-20 head coach Ian Bridge.



Julien never had the experience of playing for either Pellerud or Bridge. Instead, she was one of the new call ups by Morace, the new head coach that was hired in 2009 for both the national and U-20 teams. Julien made the team and has been part of Morace’s group of forwards ever since. In fact, she even scored in her international debut on 5 March 2009, the opening goal of a 1:1 draw with New Zealand.



Julien grew up in Williamstown, ON and played in nearby Cornwall with the Blazers. She joined the Ottawa Fury program at age 15 and then enrolled at James Madison University at age 18. A multi-sport star, she had won a gold medal at the Women’s U-18 Hockey Challenge with Ontario Red (the provincial program had two teams in the competition) in the year before she enrolled at JMU.



Since 2009, Julien has made 24 appearances for Canada (including six in 2011 through early May). She has scored five goals, including a team-best three at the 2010 Cyprus Women’s Cup. In November 2010, she helped Canada win the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier, helping Canada qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.



“Winning against Mexico in Mexico in Qualifying was a highlight,” said Julien, who came in as a substitute for the last seven minutes of the championship final. “The final whistle was pretty amazing.”



Julien said she has had her personal highs and lows since joining the program in 2009, but she is progressively getting better and should hopefully be peaking at her best when the FIFA Women’s World Cup begins in Germany.



“I want to get into a couple of games,” said Julien. “I think we have a chance of winning, we have a very good core of players that are very hungry, plus young players that are going to push them. So we have a very good combination.”



Still 23 years young, Julien is one of those players that is quickly pushing her way into the Canadian lineup on a regular basis.



The Canadian attack



Christina Julien is taking part in her first FIFA Women’s World Cup cycle in the build up to Germany 2011. Introduced to the team in 2009, she is one of those young players pushing the veterans for a place in the starting XI. Amongst the veterans ahead of her are captain Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi.



Julien remembers meeting Sinclair – a living, breathing women’s football scoring legend – for the first time in 2009. As Julien soon learned, Sinclair is just one of the girls on the national team, a teammate to all who wear the Canadian jersey. Before that first meeting, however, Julien only knew Sinclair for her incredible talents on the pitch.



“It was intimidating, I still remember my first one on one against her in training,” said Julien. “She is just an awesome player and person to meet.”



Julien said that she has learned plenty playing alongside Sinclair, such as the preparation and focus required “even for practice.” She also said that Sinclair has an incredible understanding of the game and has the ability to “change a game” just when the odds may seem stacked against you.



Come June, Julien hopes to be playing alongside Sinclair as one of the five to seven forwards named by coach Morace to the FIFA Women’s World Cup team.



“We (the group of forwards) really push each other, because we know one day we could be playing and on another day we could be on the bench,” said Julien. “We all want to succeed (personally), but ultimately we all want Canada to win.”

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