Updated: Oct 19, 2021

This piece was written by Jamal Clay, a frequent contributor of Globally Ballin and the founder of "The Athletes Forum"

I'm extremely excited for Maple League football in Finland to begin on Thursday. Corona left many of us doubtful if we would actually have a season, but things have seemed to work in our favor so that we will be able to play the 2020 season. What I'm looking forward to the most is seeing the product that teams will be able to put on the field with such a short preparation time. Teams have to hit their strides from game one in order to be successful this season. I'm excited to see who can do it and how teams respond to the challenge.  The competition level in Finland has continued to improve year by year due to the fact that more quality players and coaches are choosing to play and coach here. In Finland, many American players enjoy the experience and choose to stay and build in Finland long term.  Many teams here aren't afraid to resign imports. I have played against some imports here now for over 3-4 years! That makes the feel of the league very professional. You have a good repour of everyone in the league, coaches included. There are many great players in Finland, and picking my Top 5 was extremely hard. However, I don't think many can argue that these are some of the top players going into the 2020 season

1. Miro Kadmiry, QB, Helsinki Roosters

Miro to me is the definition of a true underdog who never quits. For years, people have found every reason they can to count him out. Rather it's his size, arm strength, or mechanics. Despite the criticism, Miro has allowed his leadership, courage, and passion for the game speak louder than people's doubts. He has exceeded all the expectations that people have set for him and he did it with class and a humble attitude. Miro has been an inspiration to many of us within the football community, and I hope he continues to succeed and represent for the underdogs. In Finland, He would be your Tom Brady figure in terms of where he has started, and where he has ended up.  

2. Christian Powell, HB, Crocodiles Christian is a tough, hard nose, and physical running back. He has the ability to carry a team and possess great leadership. The fact that the crocodiles have kept him around for several seasons and have built their offensive core around him, speaks volumes. More imports need to approach the opportunity to play in Europe the way Christian has. I would love to play alongside a HB like Powell. It would make playing QB much easier.

3. Tommy Kaczocha, DB, Kuopio Steelers Tommy is what I would like to call a Ball Hawk! He can be asked to play Safety or corner and will not back down from any challenges. Many guys can't play both corner and safety on the same level that he has been able to. Tommy is another guy that when you look at his size, you will probably count him out. However, he plays bigger than his size and he plays with alot of passion and a chip on his shoulder. I love his attitude and personality outside of football. He has easily grown to be one of my favorite players in Finland. I look forward to competing against him this season, knowing he's going to force me to bring my A game every single play.

4. Karri Pajarinen, HB, Helsinki Roosters  Since 2015, I have been able to watch Karri grow into one of the most productive athletes in Finland. I had a chance to play with him in 2016, and he plays on the level of most of the imports that come through the league. He is strong, elusive, agile, and hungry to be successful. He is a difference maker for that Helsinki Rooster offense and I believe he will prove it this season playing on an all finnish offence. In my book, he is an MVP caliber player. 

5. Sebastian Sagne, WR, Helsinki Wolverines  Sebu is a phenom! Don't let anyone tell you anything differently! This is a WR who is self made and has pushed himself for years to become a top player not only in Finland, but in Europe! He's tall, fast, and can make almost any catch possible on the field. He is a true competitor, and his level of confidence in his game is what makes him the type of player he is. I would compare his style to Chad Johnson in terms of his footwork, speed, and swagger! Playing with him and R.J. Long in 2015 was a gift and  definitely made me a better quarterback.  It has been a long wait, but I am extremely excited to play another season of American Football in Finland! Going into week one, my mindset is simply to win at all costs! I believe in myself, along with the coaches and players around me. We all know that it will be a dog fight every single week, but we have committed ourselves to playing this game and to each other. I am simply focused on going out and leading my team to victory, in hopes of taking the Butchers back to the playoffs! I haven't failed to do so in 6 years, I don't plan to start now! I wish everyone great health in 2020, and I look forward to seeing you all on the field. - Jabari Harris IMO is brought to you K.Noah stitched to last

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