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Steering Committee

To ensure we are governed with impartiality and with the spirit of inclusion and participation for all, The Academy is guided by a steering committee of stakeholders from American Football in the Yorkshire region, the UK and the USA.


Mike Cluskey - Academy Chairman


Mike has been involved with the sport of American Football in the UK since 1987 playing the sport for 10 years, then coaching and running teams since his early retirement from playing due to injuries. In this time he has been involved in Youth, Junior, Senior and University Football, and raised tens of thousands of pounds for teams in the City of Leeds in grant awards and sponsorship. Along with Ian Smyth, Mike was instrumental in the creation of the Carnegie American Football team and founded the Academy with the express aims outlined in the organisation's mission statement.



Dale Bottomley - Academy Manager



Dale has played for the Carnegie American Football team since its creation. Since graduating and subsequently studying for his Master's degree in Sports Law, he recently retired from University football and took up the role of Quarterbacks Coach. Dale is currently working as a research assistant and part-time lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University for whom he also worked on the highly successful Global Coaches House project in London during the 2012 Olympics. He has a strong background in coaching having coached in primary and secondary schools both in the UK and the USA. Dale is responsible for the day to day management of the Academy.



Ian Smyth - Sports Coaching & Development Manager, Leeds Metropolitan University


Ian was instrumental in the creation of the Carnegie American Football team at Leeds Metropolitan University and has been a strong supporter of the programme ever since. Prior to leading sport coaching and development at Leeds Met, Ian worked for Major League Baseball in America, so is very much aware of the cultural sensitivities of American sport and the promotion of it into new territories.



David R Needs - Head Coach Red Lion Christian Academy Football, Bear, DE


Coach Needs is a long time friend to British Football, travelling back and forth annually to assist teams up and down the UK since the early 2000’s. A retired teacher, David has since found a strong affinity with the city of Leeds and the Carnegie American Football team through his Christian ministry work with the Joshua Warrior Institute. Coach Needs and his colleague Coach Bonvetti have visited the Headingley campus on over ten occasions in the last few years, coaching football and working with local churches in the region - giving sporting and pastoral support to the coaching staff and players. When the Academy was first mentioned to Coach Needs, he showed his enthusiasm by immediately committing to support the programme during his regular visits to Leeds with both his football knowledge and his strong pastoral skillset.





 Academy patrons and contributors 



Ashley Ingram - Run Game Coordinator, United States Naval Academy,
Annapolis, MD



Coach Ingram is a long time friend of the Carnegie team and has assisted greatly in the setup of their offensive scheme in recent years and has also hosted Leeds Met coaches at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and at their recent game in Dublin against Notre Dame at the Aviva stadium. Ashley is a keen supporter of the Academy and knowing how the sport of American Football is viewed from a British perspective, he has stated that the sport has much to give the youth of Leeds and has vowed to help however he can with the programme's coaches and participating schools and clubs.



David M Needs - Director of Track & Field, Carson Newman University, TN Coach



Coach Needs is the eldest son of the aforementioned David R Needs and until recently was the Assistant Head Football Coach at NCAA powerhouse Carson Newman in Tennessee. He was recently named Director of Track and Field at the University and still maintains strong contact with the football programme, which is guided by one of the all time great American Football coaches, Ken Sparks. Coach Needs has assisted the Carnegie programme greatly, is a regular contributor to the American Football Coaches Association manual and has spoken at the British American Football Coaches Association in the UK on multiple occasions.

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