REVIVE: AKSELI OLIN
This piece was written by Jamal Clay, a frequent contributor of Globally Ballin and the founder of "The Athletes Forum"
After a very depressing few months in the sports world there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. As one of the few sports leagues in the whole world, the Maple League is starting today. For fans and players alike, it looks to be one of the most interesting seasons in a while with no clear-cut favorite to lift the Maple Bowl trophy in September. As a veteran player I’m extremely proud of the will and determination of my team to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic situation – and I’m quite excited to face the opposition this year with a completely Finland-based team and no professional imports.
The competitive level in the Maple League has been steadily rising with Roosters being able to hold the top position for a number of years. Overall, I believe Maple League is one of the top leagues in Europe now that the number of teams has been reduced. The current 6 team format will make the league even more competitive and it will make the league more appealing to fans.
There are only a handful of receivers in the league that I respect – most are just trash. The ones I have mentioned have proven their skills in the Maple League playing consistently for multiple seasons. Hopefully this year we get to see new players rise up to the challenge and create plays week after week. My top 5 WR in Finland are…
1. Alexander Wasiljeff, Helsinki Roosters
Alexander and I go face to face in practice every day and even though I know most his moves, they are still extremely difficult to defend. Look for him to draw double coverage in most games – and if not, expect deep corner routes after his signature double move, or quick seam routes which he often turns into monster gains with his blazing speed.
2. Tino Ndongo, Kuopio Steelers
The slot receiver has an insane burst of speed which he utilizes for getaways after quick catches. Has a knack for making massive plays from even the shortest screen routes but can also occasionally burn the coverage for the deep bomb.
3. Mikko Seppänen, Porvoo Butchers
Mikko has extreme athleticism and despite not being the biggest receiver, he isn’t easy to bring down. His ability to change direction is world-class and when Seppänen gets the ball on the open field, he might be one of the most dangerous players in the league.
4. Tim Thomas, Seinäjoki Crocodiles
Tim has been on hiatus from the Maple League for two seasons, but I firmly believe he will cause damage on the field from the wideout position. While Tim isn’t the strongest or the fastest receiver, he has the softest hands I’ve seen and runs crisp routes. He is paramount to the success of the Crocodiles offence.
5. Johannes Jauhiainen, Helsinki Roosters
A shifty wideout who moved to Helsinki after spending a few years in Kuopio. He might have the fastest 40 in the league – blink and he’s gone! If he can create chemistry with his QB Miro Kadmiry, he might have the most long TDs this year in the Maple League.
I’m extremely happy to be able to play another season of football.
My mindset for the season is the same as always: have loads of fun and win the championship. As a team, we will prove that our players are the most committed athletes in the league and the work we’ve put in through the year bears fruit in September.
This will be a season to remember, so make sure you tune in to live broadcasts of the games this year if you can’t make it to the stands to see the Helsinki Roosters make history once more.
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