By the time Julia Grosso was 20, she already had an Olympic gold medal under her belt, achieved on a sudden death penalty kick by midfielder against Sweden at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Not even a year later, the 21-year-old adds further accolades to the trophy cabinet with an Italian Women’s Cup victory with Juventus on May 22, the Italian club with whom she signed a one-year contract. a little over six months ago.
Since then, Grosso has won another two years in Turin, signing a new contract that will keep her with the club until 2024 after helping the Bianconere win a fifth consecutive Serie A title and the Supercoppa Italiana in 15 appearances this season.
Not even a year ago, Grosso stopped playing Big 12 Division I football with the Texas Longhorns, although his impact down south was immense for his team with 15 goals and 12 assists in 42 games over three seasons.
Today, Grosso has become one of Canada’s best-known women’s soccer players for her efforts in Tokyo and her impact in Turin, but her rise in the world of women’s soccer has only just begun.
“It’s such a different culture around football here. Especially with Juventus, it’s a very big club, especially in Italy. So everywhere you go you really feel the passion. Like even when we travel to different places, there are always Juventus fans who come to see our game,” Grosso said.
“I think that’s been the biggest thing for me, it’s like seeing the appreciation and especially with the women’s game and seeing all the fans come out. It was unreal.”
Long before Grosso crossed the pond to join one of Italy’s most successful and historic clubs, she was born in Vancouver and made her debut with the Canadian soccer program at age 13, joining Team U -15.
Appearing in 36 games for Team Canada, Grosso was first called up to the senior national team while John Herdman was still in charge of the women’s team, being named to the World Cup roster at just 18 years old.
However, Grosso saw no action at the tournament – and she had questioned her place in the national team – but under new coach Bev Priestman, Grosso was named to the 2021 She Believes Cup roster. , which forced a look at what she needed to improve as a player.
While Priestman saw potential in Grosso and used her as a regular substitute during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, when Grosso was put in position to win a gold medal for Canada, the decision Priestman made was the maid.
With a case of trophies already stacked, Grosso’s career is decorated with more wins and memories than some players will get in their lifetime, but complacency just isn’t an option for the 21-year-old.
“Winning the gold medal and playing for this club is definitely an honor and exciting, but I still feel like I have a long way to go for my dreams and all that,” Grosso said. .
“There’s so much to come with Team Canada and even just that we need to do. I just think, always, no matter what happens, I always have more and more that I want to accomplish. and I didn’t really think like ‘Oh, I did that there, that’s a really big thing.’ But you know, there’s more to come. There’s more Olympics to come. So it’s like repeating those actions and getting the job done.”
Grosso’s growth doesn’t just come from progress on the pitch and trophies as she continues her rise in women’s football as a leader of the next generation alongside players like Jordyn Huitema and Jessie Fleming who also currently play in Europe.
As Canadian soccer icons Diana Matheson and Steph Labbé retire, the national team’s average age is only around 23, and Grosso is eager to play a bigger role as a front-runner. the Women’s World Cup and the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“I think one of the main reasons, like what I want to do in my career, looking back, I just want to know that I inspired the younger generations to do that too, keep pushing for your dreams and all that,” she says. “It’s so cool to think that someone might look up to you, I’m going to try to help them as much as I can, when they show up. I know, the first time feeling and all that stuff, so I really would like to be a good role model and help as much as I can.”
There is no shortage of growth in women’s football as tournaments, league and cup finals continue to break attendance records, are home to some of the game’s best talent and record club signings.
Despite the fact that many women’s teams don’t play in the same large stadiums as their male counterparts, with an expanding fandom and audience for the game, management may well be moving towards more accommodation.
“The future is bright with women’s football, seeing those big numbers, like Barcelona, you saw 92,000 or something. Just knowing that’s where we are at the moment, with especially the Champions League, I think in the future it’s going to be even better than that,” Grosso said.
“Maybe we can play in those stadiums, and I think it will continue to grow and grow, which is really exciting, especially at 21.”
Experiencing the game on a global scale at the center of the action continues to leave Grosso in awe, but her local roots are still as important as the growth of her playing career.
The players who made Canadian women’s soccer the strong program it is today are not lost on Grosso, and her experiences with the team as they continue to succeed have been an opportunity to learn as physically and mentally.
“They’re all very inspiring on their own and you see how they are and that’s why they’re so successful and stuff, I learned so much from each one of them,” Grosso said.
“Being in that atmosphere at the Olympics, seeing those players and how they handle things and how even at the 2019 World Cup, it was an honor to be a part of it… I haven’t just seen it because I can learning for me, but kind of experimenting and experimenting with those things with them, so that was really cool and they’re so amazing.”
The growth of the game in Canada is not lost on Grosso as she currently resides in Turin as signing a contract with the NWSL was seen as her next step after finishing playing in Texas as many players do. academics.
However, as Canada still does not have an NWSL team and more exposure to the game for young Canadian women outside of the national team, setting up a team closer to home is still an important goal as a leader off the pitch.
“Team Canada has done a lot of great things on the women’s side, and we definitely need a professional team in Canada, I think it’s like the next biggest step, especially for little girls, like I know here in Italy we have this team and different teams in Italy, so these little girls are looking for something like ‘Oh, I want to be like them’, you know,” Grosso said.
“I think it’s so important in Canada, because they might see going to college or something, but they don’t have a Canadian professional team to look up to and support and see what it’s for. looks like, they can only look like the Canadian women’s team, but I think it’s important to have that professional environment.”
Like Grosso, many other members of the Canadian national team have expressed the need for a national team, and the national program has taken notice.
Canada aims to build a professional team and hire a professional women’s soccer manager to continue to develop the game with the domestic talent available.
The last year of Grosso’s life completely changed how the world viewed her as a player and how she viewed herself, but the added pressure and responsibility only instilled the work she put in to becoming the player she is today was worth it.
The will to succeed is evident in any athlete, but even after the championships and the consistent success around Grosso, seeing Juventus and Canada continue to win are the young star’s two biggest priorities.
“Winning all we can and just growing, building partnerships on the pitch, I think that’s really exciting. We have a winning culture here, so just to keep winning those championships, keep growing as a team, and not just be a team here in Italy, but expand all over Europe, progress in the Champions League, really do more than be the winning team here in Italy, but in Europe in general,” Grosso said. .
“With Team Canada, wherever I play, just to keep striving to win. Like the World Cup for us, we have the qualifiers this summer, so qualify and go to the World Cup and win, do all like amazing things. I would say just to keep pushing for greatness, just doing our best to make our country proud.”