Playing for the Wasa Royals (Vaasa) this year, Justin Sottilare has been kind enough to do a short interview about his time in Finland and the different cultural aspects of life in Finland.
How many years have you been playing Football in Europe/Overseas?
I’m going on my 4th year overseas. First one in Germany, then Finland, Russia, and most recently Australia.
How many seasons have you spent in Finland?
Two seasons here in Finland, going on my third.
Why did you choose to play in Finland repeatedly?
When I had first gotten here they mentioned that a handful of the imports usually come back for multiple seasons and I laughed about it, but now going on my third, I obviously like something about it. It’s a very competitive league and very professional. All of our games will be on TV this season which is an awesome thing for Finnish football. Just excited to be a part of it. And I’ve also come up short in my last two seasons, so I wanted to go one more round and see if I can complete my goal.
What are a few positive cultural differences you have experienced in Finland?
I think Finland is ranked up there in the quality of life, water, and education, so all of those are pretty awesome. There’s also less violence and crime in Finland than most countries in the world. And obviously Pokemon Go is much more enjoyed when there is 24 hour sunlight.
What are a few negative cultural differences you have experienced in Finland?
Well the main thing that I’ve heard about is the shyness of people, which in some cases I see it to be true, but with most of my teammates and the small circle outside of that, they seem pretty open to me. But I guess the only negative to me, because I’m not used to it, is the amount of ice in the winter. When I stayed here last year over the winter, it was pretty tough to do every day things when it was -25 degrees and windy outside.
What are some positive differences in the American Football culture in Finland?
American Football is a lot different back home. Mostly everyone follows football in some way or at least has a favorite team. Here it’s not as popular but has potential to grow in the publics eyes. Like I said before, all our games will be on TV this year which will help grow it and although it’s still an amateur sport, the more professional the league becomes, the better imports and coaches are brought over, the higher the national players talents will be and it can become a big thing over here
What some negative differences in the American Football culture in Finland?
Well again, its seen as an amateur sport over here for now. And I wouldn’t say that as a negative, every sport has to go through this process at some point.
What suggestions do you have to ease the cultural transition for American imports in Finland?
- Don’t expect to talk to strangers on the train
- Start to appreciate a grey sky
- Know that you’ll be well taken care of by your teammates and coaches. This league is very professional and they seem to care very much
What kind of advice do you have for anyone interested in playing American Football in Europe or Finland?
I’d say it’s a great country to play in. I’ve been in multiple countries but this is the one I keep coming back to. If you want to compete and challenge yourself while also helping the game grow, this is a good place to look into.