The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is located more than 4,500 miles from Peoria, a place where unique design and architecture rise among more than 600,000 inhabitants.
It’s also a place where amazing events have been seen, like the 1952 Olympics, an event that transformed the city into what Rasmus Smidtslund, a second-year student on the Bradley football team, knows today.
“I was born and raised [in Helsinki], ”Smidtslund said. “It is a beautiful city; there’s a lot to do and lots of great places to see. ”
Smidtslund is one of many Bradley student athletes who come from all over the world. However, it may come as a surprise to Smidtslund that he is not the only Bradley athlete from Helsinki.
“He actually went to the same high school as my brother,” said Ville Tahvanainen, Bradley’s basketball junior guard. “I didn’t know Rasmus at all until I went here, but apparently he lived about two miles from me.”
Growing up, Smidtslund has always enjoyed his hometown, but he has always been grateful for the strong bond he has with his family.
As the only child, her parents Jan-Erik Smidtslund and Leena Kähköen were able to focus on her and her hobbies.
“My parents were playing sports [when they were younger], ”Smidtslund said. “My dad also played football … Overall, my mom and dad are both interested in football, especially when I play.”
Football was one of the hobbies that became a big part of his life from an early age, partly due to his father’s success in the second division of Finland.
Smidtslund and his father love sports as well as each other offer them many connections.
“We both support Liverpool, so when I’m home, we rarely miss matches,” Smidtslund said. “We also play Fantasy Premier League against each other every week. He has won all year; it has been difficult for me. “
In addition to the family supporting Premier League football, their support really shows what they do when Smidtslund is away.
“My dad actually wakes up every night when we play to watch games if he can,” Smidtslund said. “My mother always supports me, but she’s not interested in it.”
While football and family are certainly a big part of Smidtslund’s life, he remembers and takes with him what he was able to experience before moving to Peoria.
In Finland, every man aged 18–60 has been involved in the army for half a year at some point in his life. This may be delayed due to schooling or other reasons, but Smidtslund considered it a task to do sooner or later.
“I chose to serve at a naval base for about 40 minutes outside of Helsinki,” Smidtslund said. “It was [some] good times… I made a lot of friends there. ”
Of all the things Smidtslund encountered while at the base, he said he uses patience the most today.
“I think I’ve learned to have more patience,” Smidtslund said. “It really taught me that there are certain things that aren’t under your control, and you have to live with it and do your best.”
Now Smidtslund is focused on studying and playing football, but talking to other native people like Tahvanainen seems to like Smidtslund.
“We’re good friends now and we keep in touch all the time after I’ve met him,” Tahvanainen said.
When Smidtslund’s third year played football at Bradley, it’s easy to look back and see his impact on the team and his abilities.
In his first year, he competed with talented upper-classers for time and offered a spark when given time. During the 2020-21 season shortened by the pandemic, Smidtslund led the team with three goals in 11 matches, indicating that accelerating progress can lead to better results.
While this season hasn’t gone as Smidtslund would have liked it to go, patience – even though a higher number was expected in the payout column – has allowed him to show off some of the leadership skills he learned over the course of six months. at the fleet base.
“The way I experienced leadership there changed me so that I could be better off communicating with my teammates,” Smidtslund said. “I have no hesitation in saying we should wait [better] results. We are no longer inexperienced and I look forward to a few remaining games to see if we can build [the last few games]. ”
With a naval base, getting used to a foreign land, and his next steps in life, Smidtslund has extensive experience feeding his work, and when he struggles, his family continues to support him – even if they are on the other side of the Atlantic.