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Jen and Julia's sweet home in Alabama
 Women's Football News 26 Jul 2010
Jen and Julia's sweet home in Alabama - 26 Jul 2010 - Women's Football NewsJen and Julia Osmond are about to embark on the second year of their scholarship at the University of North Alabama.
The 19-year-old twin sisters, who played for Chelsea, Portsmouth and Reading, joined the UNA a year ago but, whilst both enjoying the experience, there were contrasting fortunes for them.
Julia starred in the UNA defence as they reached the Conference South Final but for Jen, it was a year of rehabilitation after suffering a serious injury in pre-season.
"I played the first 60 minutes of our first friendly," Jen told Women's Soccer Scene, "but then I tore my ACL and had to miss the rest of the season. I was really well treated though and did physio every day.
"I had to sit on the bench for every game but that was a really good experience - you do learn a lot and you listen to what the coach is saying. You get a completely different view from when you are on the pitch - sometimes it seems as though it is a completely different game.
"The facilities are amazing there and you are really well looked after. I had to have an operation but my mum was able to travel over and we are always able to talk to our parents back home. There is also a physio on call for me if needed."
"There is a lot of travelling but I actually quite enjoy that," says Julia. "It's been a busy life but I've really enjoyed it.
"The team has had a great year, we have achieved more than we thought we would. In just one year, we have improved so much and we won the award as the Most Improved Team. Everyone in the squad can't wait to get back - expectations will be higher this year and it's going to be tough, but we're all looking forward to it."
Jen and Julia are two of seven English players who are in the UNA squad - the others being Hollie Loud, Stephanie Bradshaw, Chloe Roberts, Nikki Brown and Jo Chubb - and they admit that having them there helped them settle in quicker.
"The fact that there were so many English girls there was a bonus as I had people to talk to," says Jen, "but the Americans were also really welcoming and helped me through." "It helped to have them there, it made the move easier," added Julia.
And the English players are certainly making an impact. "Chloe Roberts and Nikki Brown have had great seasons and made the All Star Team," revealed Julia, who herself was voted into the 'second team'. "Chloe is a brilliant finisher but to be fair she had great service, we have a good team throughout which scored a lot of goals."
So how good is the standard they are playing in? "Well, Julia will have a better idea than me," replies Jen. "From what I can see, it's a very good standard - maybe a little slower in possession but the movement off the ball is a lot quicker."
"Most of the teams we have played are probably on a par with the Southern Division of the Premier League," Julia confirms. "However there are also teams like West Florida, whose side have a number of Jamaicans and Brazilians who are around 24-25 years old. They have strength and speed and are a very experienced squad."
Off the pitch, the players are also kept busy. "We have helped coach kids in the local community, at the same time helping to promote the UNA ladies soccer team," says Julia. "It's great fun and really enjoyable, and you really feel as though you are putting something back into the community.
"Our coach Graham Winkworth has been really good to us. He is always there for us and does everything possible to make sure we are happy, our parents are always made welcome and they make sure they do everything they can for all of us."
Now the sisters are set for their second year at the university and both are travelling with specific aims.
"We want to win the Conference South this year," says Julia. "We lost in the Final to West Florida, who inflicted three of our four defeats in the whole season. We also want to reach the last eight of the Nationals, which is one stage further than we went last year."
"I want to get back to pre-season and challenge for a place in the team again," admits Jen. "I have spent a lot of time training with my Dad (Paul) and Julia during the summer and building myself up.
"I trained for 30 minutes at first but have now built up to around 90 minutes and I am now a lot fitter.
"It has been nearly eleven months since my operation and I even had to learn to walk properly again afterwards. But I have done a lot of work on my knee and I can't wait to get back playing again."

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