The Maple League is not the only competitive Football league in Finland. Division 1 of Finland plays on a smaller stage, but can argue a league of more similar talent, which creates more competitive teams and games. It has even been said that some D1 teams could compete evenly with Maple League teams (Did someone say Helsinki Wolverines?), but that is an article for another time. One of the top imports in Division 1, Justin Bell of the Kuopio Steelers was kind enough to answer a few questions about his time in Finland so far.
WELCOME TO FINLAND
How did you get here? What’s your football journey?
Been playing football since the age of 5. Played through high school and college at Ohio Dominican University, a division 2 school in Columbus. Never played the same position for more than 2 years consecutively. I am versatile, so I always played where needed. Heard about europlayers once I graduated and made a profile. Got a contract from the Milano Seamen of Italy in 2015. Went and trained in Miami for 5 months in 2016(didn’t play for a team). Was contacted by Kuopio Steelers in 2017 to play.
How do you like it in Finland?
Finland is cool. It’s a pretty relaxed place where I’m at and I am a relaxed person so I don’t have any complaints really. Can be a bit boring but that’s on me I got to do some exploring around here. Overall it’s cool though I’m taken care of here.
How do you like the Finnish People?
Finnish people are alright. The only ones I have any socialization with are teammates or people who have something to do with the organization. Haven’t really met any outsiders yet. It seems like the people don’t do too much talking with strangers here lol
What is your go to meal in Finland?
I eat at Bowl Diner, a restaurant here in Kuopio. I like their beef chili cheese dogs and crispy chicken sandwich meals the most.
What are your midsummer plans?
My cousin is coming from the states and we will be traveling from Tuesday-Friday or the midsummer week.
LET’S TALK FOOTBALL
What do you see as the end result for you guys this season?
I think we definitely compete to win it all. I personally don’t play for anything less than winning it all and in order to do that it has to be a belief that we can.
Individually how do you feel about your performance so far?
I think I performed average so far. I usually get better as the season goes along so I’m looking forward to it.
What changes if any do the Steelers need to make to improve?
We just have to come out to play with more intensity early in the game. Started off flat and picked up as the game went on. Also, eliminate mental mistakes.
So, what’s next for you? After the season.
I’m not sure yet. I want to continue playing football and want to be at a higher level but whatever is best for my situation once the time comes I’m going to roll with that.