PHOTO CREDIT: GORDON BECK, THE GAZETTE
Alejandro Julian plays on two teams and coaches
two others to give back to his Cartierville roots.

ALEJANDRO JULIAN
AMATEUR ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
NOVEMBER 3, 2004

VIEW THE VIDEO CLIP COURTESY OF GLOBAL TV

Julian has busy soccer life
Defender is MVP. Besides playing, he coaches teams

by ARPON BASU

No matter how far Cartierville's Alejandro Julian goes in soccer, he'll never forget where he came from.

Julian, a promising 18-year-old defender in the N.D.G. Panthers program, was recently handed the Ballon D'Or award as the most valuable player in the league after his Under-18 Panthers claimed the regular-season title in the Ligue de Soccer Elite du Quebec.


On top of his summer commitments with N.D.G., Julian is also captain of the Vanier College soccer team.

But it doesn't stop there. Not even close.

When he's not hitting the books in an attempt to complete his pure-and-applied science degree at Vanier, and when he's not sleeping, Julian gives back to the grass roots of soccer that cultivated his love for the game.

He serves as an assistant coach for the indoor women's soccer team at College Andre-Grasset, but his most gratifying extra-curricular work comes from helping kids in his home town. He runs an athletics program for an hour a week at Cartierville's Francois-de-Laval elementary school, and he also coached an Under-15 boys' team in the Salaberry Soccer Federation.

"That's the soccer association that raised me," Julian said.

Though his own coaches at N.D.G. and Vanier are begging Julian to stop coaching and concentrate on his own career, he refuses to listen, because his soccer career is thriving, anyway.

Last year, as part of the Quebec all-star team that was competing in the national All-Star Championships, Julian grew up as a soccer player. By his own admission, the pressure of the national stage got to him at first, and it affected his play.

But in the tournament final, with the game going to penalty kicks, Julian was tabbed by his coach to be Quebec's final kicker.

With Quebec up by one goal, Julian put his penalty in to clinch the title, although the gravity of the situation escaped him at first.

"I just turned around and thought: 'Great, I scored.' I didn't realize I had just won us the national championship," he recalled. "But then I saw all my teammates running toward me, and I realized what happened."

Being awarded the Ballon D'Or this year, however, was even more special for Julian because he won it despite having the league's leading scorer - Esi Shehaj - on his team.

For Julian, it was a validation of all the intangibles he brings to a team as its last line of defence, a role that is valuable, but often overlooked.

"I'm basically the director, because I can see all the players, so I'm there to tell everyone what's going on," he said. "There's a lot of pressure on my position, you have to deal (with the fact) you can't make any major mistakes."

In the eyes of the kids he coaches, it's doubtful Julian makes any mistakes at all.

To see Alejandro Julian in action, click on this link. (High-speed internet required.)

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2004


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