Inter Miami CF Special Olympic Unified team coach, Julius James

Former T&T FIFA Under-17 World Cup player and senior national team defender Julius James was appointed to the coaching staff of the David Beckham-owned Inter Miami CF Special Olympics Unified Team on Tuesday.

It was announced by the club in collaboration with Special Olympics, MLS WORKS, and ESPN that the Inter Miami CF Special Olympics Unified team will be led by coaches Daniel Cartaya, Director, OPA Works and a Founding member at Our Pride Academy, a non-profit 501(c)3 school for kids with developmental disabilities Pre-K through to adult, and current Inter Miami CF Academy coach and former MLS and James.

Reached for comment, James said he was absolutely honoured to be named head coach of the Inter Miami CF Special Olympics Unified Athlete Team.

Speaking with Guardian Media Sports from Atlanta where the team played a match on Wednesday, James commenting on his new role within the club said they started actually two years ago before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and halted things.

He said, "The Special Olympics Unified Athlete Program started with Inter Miami started two years and we had games set with other MLS clubs and about 60 athletes and Special Olympians show up for trials and we even had interview with coaches, but then the pandemic hit.

"So we were unable to go forward with our plans but Atlanta United invited us for a game earlier this year and we decided that we will just come together really quickly and go forward with our plans.

“So everything just worked out and aligned really perfectly for us to make something grand."

Going forward James said the most important thing the club wants to do is be part of the community.

“Inter Miami just started three years ago and having a relationship with the community is very big for us, so the main thing is not only to compete and to give a high level of competition for the Special Olympians and Unified athletes but the goal is to also have a strong community presence.

“Right now there are no plans in terms of Olympics or anything like that but we are starting to be in contact with more teams so that possibly in the feature a league could take place giving the athletes more games, but our main goal is to bring awareness and to have everyone understand that Special Olympians are like everybody else.”

Before moving to the USA, the Maloney-born 37-year-old James who now resides in Fort Lauderdale enjoyed standout college careers first on home soil at St Anthony’s College whom he led to multiple Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) North Zone and National Inter-Col and League crowns following a transfer from St James Secondary.

Upon leaving the St Anthony’s “Westmooring Tigers”, James earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Connecticut where he was a Hermann Trophy candidate and Lowe’s Senior Class Award finalist before being drafted ninth overall by Toronto FC in 2008.

He then plied his trade with Houston Dynamo (2009), Minnesota Thunder (2009), DC United (2009-2010), Columbus Crew (2011-2012), Carolina Railhawks (2013), San Antonio Scorpions (2014-2015), Fort Lauderdale Strikers (2016), Sacramento Republic (2017) and ending his professional career with FC Motown in 2018/2019 season.

James, who was a founding member of Can Bou Play Foundation and an Agricultural & Resource Economics major at Uconn, played for one professional club in T&T, Central FC for whom he featured twice in 2017

​James and the rest of the coaching staff will be in charge of 11 Special Olympic athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The players signed their contracts in September alongside Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson and conducted multiple training sessions at the Inter Miami CF Training Center ahead of their inaugural match against the Atlanta United FC Special Olympics Unified team at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian