Roman Runner: The Finland Football Expert

Roman Runner of the Hämeenlinna Huskies has been kind enough to do a short interview about playing in Finland and sharing his experiences. Checkout more interveiws on the AFF Podcast.


Roman Runner attended Freedom High School in Oakley, California before playing Football at Idaho University.Photo Credit: AP/Dean Hare

How many years have you been playing Football in Europe/Overseas?

This will be my 4th season


How many seasons have you spent in Finland?

This will also be my 4th season


Why did you choose to play in Finland repeatedly?

Well I tend to Receive the most or the best offers from Teams in Finland. I am consistent with my skill level, durable enough to play full seasons, versatile to play every skill position, selfless athlete. I uphold this reputation naturally, it is who I am as person, that then transfers to the game of football. After finishing my 3rd year, this is no secret in Finland, also that my game is only getting better, I am very far away from my skills declining. Which has a lot towards how I prepare for seasons and the lack of partying I do. Also, I see that this league is getting better every year, a lot of players from last year came back, it’s a good euro league to play in, I love being a part of it.

What are a few positive cultural differences you have experienced in Finland?

I am a city guy, I live in San Francisco, its hectic and very fast pace, even during the Summer time. The things that I like about Finland that even in Helsinki, time can go by slower, more time to appreciate life. They also say Finnish people can be very shy, which is true. But how technology has embowered Metro cities like SF, people here have become more anti-social than ever. In Finland, I see that they still do things a little bit more old fashion in social terms; I like that.

Runner began his professional career in Finland with the Seinäjoki Crocodiles. Since then he has played for the Porvoon Butchers, Turku Trojans, and currently the Hämeenlinna Huskies, all teams in Finland. Photo Credit: Turku Trojans

What are a few negative cultural differences you have experienced in Finland?

Honestly bruh, with this whole Trump take over going on here in America, I can’t even downplay anyone else’s culture. In respects of the hardships going on in third world countries. For being a 1st world country, we got the most F’d up crap going on here, on a daily. However, I always miss our food when I am abroad, we for sure got the best.


What are some positive differences in the American Football culture in Finland?

It is getting better, slowly but surely, the Finnish players are getting better most definitely. Competition is stronger for sure, we had a few good Finnish players hang up their cleats, which is unfortunate. When a team like Wasa Royals come from a lower division and show promise in the Maple league the first year. As well as this upcoming year, the Hämeenlinna Huskies who has so far, been great in off-season transactions. You can see that the right people are being put in place to make this a better league.


What some negative differences in the American Football culture in Finland?

Exposure. I understand that Finland is dominated by Ice Hockey and winter sports. However, I don’t think that should discourage the SAJL leaders towards promoting more. I see that TV exposure is getting better, which is a huge step. However, I believe they should put the players in a better position to collaborate with the general population. “All” the willing players, not just a few selected favorite; which has been obvious over the years.


What suggestions do you have to ease the cultural transition for American imports in Finland?

For me personally, its second nature to me, I am all too familiar with the culture. A suggestion towards someone new; I actually do know a couple players that will playing in 1st division this year, coming from the bay area. Advice I would give them would be, be yourself but understand the environment isn’t the same. Somethings just won’t make any sense at all. But always come to realization, that looking back at the Cities/ neighborhoods we come from; this is a blessing. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so stay in prayer and make the best of it, and it will treat you good.


What kind of advice do you have for anyone interested in playing American Football in Europe or Finland?

You won’t get rich, that’s for sure, unless you land in something rich while your here (ha-ha). Nevertheless, the experience alone is very enriching, so I would definitely recommend playing if you’re looking to continue you career as well as travel.


Runner has been a top player in the Maple League every season, earning multiple all-star selections as a wide receiver and defensive back. Photo Credit: FSC Media

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