Sweden: Uppsala 86ers welcome back RB Joshua Akena

The Uppsala 86ers welcome the return of running back Joshua Akena to the team for the 2020 season.

The 6′, 233 pound 27-year-old Akena, from Stockholm, last played for Uppsala in the 2017 season. Last year, playing running back for the Stockholm Mean Machines, he helped the team to capture the 2019 Swedish title while rushing for 473 yards during the regular season on 82 carries. He spent part of the 2018 season with the Goteborg Marvels before suffering a bicep injury. In 2017, playing linebacker with the 86ers, he was a key to the team’s semifinal appearance. Playing linebacker for the Wasa Royals in their first season in Finland’s top league in 2016, he recorded 62 tackles in 11 games and was a defensive anchor on a team that reached the semifinals. He helped the 86ers develop into the stingiest defense in the league during the 2015 season, his third year with the team.

A product of the Arlanda Jets program, he went to Ovid-Elsie High School in Michigan in 2010 before walking on at Grand Valley State the following year where he spent two seasons before his eligibility expired. He stayed on though, keeping a promise to his mother.

“I promised her that I would get my degree in Exercise Science even if I could not play football,” he said. “But playing in that stadium in front of 25,000 fans was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.”

Coming back to the program that helped develop him was an important reason for signing with Uppsala. The club has merged operations with the Arlanda Jets with Arlanda fielding teams in the lower divisions and Akena is excited about the opportunity to be reunited for former teammates and coaches.

“It’s basically my old team and I will be playing with former teammates from both the Jets and 86ers. Some of the guys I haven’t played with for 10 years. The same goes for the coaching staff with Moe Kadkhodai as head coach of 86ers and GM of Arlanda.”

Akena is also a member of  Team Sweden and under head coach, Billy Kennedy was important in last year’s European Championship qualifying wins over Russia and Great Britain:

“We used him at fullback in our two back package. He scored against Russia and had some key first downs in both games. He is a really versatile athlete.”

Check out Akena’s highlights from the 2019 championship season

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