CFL Global Combine in Finland highlights European talent

The Canadian Football League and global scouting coordinator Lawrence Hopper continue their search for international talent as the CFL looks to continue to build its global program with new talent in 2023.

Earlier this month, Hopper and combine officials arrived at Uusimaa Areena in Porvoo, Finland to test eight athletes from Denmark, Serbia, Sweden, and Norway. These prospects hope to earn an invite to the CFL combine later this year in Edmonton on March 21-25, 2023. So far ten global players have already been invited, with approximately 10 more international spots available.

The CFL will hold another global combine in the United Kingdom in late February, which will feature another round of several players from around Europe.

Some of the standouts from the combine in Finland were two Serbian veterans on the European football scene as edge defender Dusan Novakovic and defensive back Goran Zec were the two top athletes when it came to testing.

Novakovic, a 6’3 pass rusher who has played for top European teams like the Wroclaw Panthers and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns ran an impressive 4.71 40-yard dash and had 25 reps on the bench press, to go along with a 9’7 broad jump. The pass rusher spent part of last year training in the USA as part of All 22’s global combine training program with AIA, before joining the ELF in July.

The other Serbian talent, Goran Zec ran the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.58 and had the top vertical jump at 35 inches. Zec also brings perhaps the strongest on-field resume to the table, as he was  top performer in the ELF last season for the Wroclaw Panthers as he amassed 88 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, eight pass break-ups and a league-leading six interceptions.

Zec and Novakovic at the CFL Combine in Finland – via SAAF

Swedish national team receiver and recent Barcelona Dragons signee Theodor Landstrom also had a strong performance running a 4.46 shuttle and claiming the top broad jump at 9’10. Berlin Thunder linebacker and fellow Swede Ludvig Myren also ran a strong 40-yard dash at 4.71. and had the top shuttle at 4.26.

Here are the complete testing results (via SAJL)

The results of the Porvoo combine

Players Measurements
62 OLAVUO, Aleksi FIN DL 187 cm 282.6 lbs 9 inc 76 cm 189 cm
87 NOVAKOVIC, Dusan SRB DL 190 cm 228.8 lbs 10.2 in 82 cm 192 cm
4 ZEC, Goran SRB DB 179 cm 192.2 lbs 9.4 in 83 cm 186 cm
71 LANDSTROM, Theodor SWE WR 193 cm 211.6 lbs 8.6 in 83 cm 190 cm
19 MYREN, Ludvig SWE LB 184 cm 208.4 lbs 9.4 in 77 cm 182 cm
18 JOHNSEN, Jesper NOR QB 193 cm 226 lbs 8.7 in 81 cm 196 cm
38 NILSEN, Rune NOR RB 176 cm 219 lbs 7.4 in 74 cm 172 cm
5 KONATE, Michel DEN RB 182 cm 214.8 lbs 9.7 in 86 cm 196 cm
Athletic Performances
# Name NAT POS Vertical jump Broad junp BENCH 40y Shuttle left Shuttle rights 3-CONE
62 OLAVUO, Aleksi FIN DL 64 cm 7ft 10.5in 19 5.56 4.97 4.96 8,19
87 NOVAKOVIC, Dusan SRB DL 81 cm 9ft 7in 25 4.71 4.58 4.50 7.13
4 ZEC, Goran SRB DB 87 cm 9ft 3in 12 4.58 4.35 4.40 7.03
71 LANDSTROM, Theodor SWE WR 80 cm 9ft 10in 4 4.83 4.46 4.58 7.28
19 MYREN, Ludvig SWE LB 82 cm 9ft 1.5in DNP 4.71 4.26 4.19 6.87
18 JOHNSEN, Jesper NOR QB 75 cm 8ft 6.5in 13 4.91 4.87 4.76 7.57
38 NILSEN, Rune NOR RB 74 cm 8ft 8in 19 4.96 4.66 4.75 7.53
5 KONATE, Michel DEN RB 84 cm 9ft 5in 15 4.82 4.59 4.56 7.50

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and