The British American Football Association (BAFA) is the National Governing Body for the sport of American football in Great Britain.

BAFA is responsible for all regulatory, competition, performance and development aspects of the game.

The responsibilities and activities of BAFA include the following:

  • The organisation and promotion of all amateur domestic national competitions across both contact and non-contact versions of the game.
  • The organisation and promotion of the national teams in international competition.
  • The promotion of the game to people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities and the provision of opportunities for their engagement and development.
  • The regulation of the game on and off the field of play through oversight of its rules.
  • The representation of the British game to national and international partners, be they sporting organisations, federations, or commercial interests.

BAFA is a member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).

BAFA is a company limited by guarantee.

Management and Operations:

The British American Football Association has a Board of Directors and a staffing structure comprised of Managers and Officers who support the delivery of the sport across a series of directorates.

The current BAFA Directors are:

Nichole McCulloch


Nichole has an MBA and is an experienced management consultant and executive search professional with over a decade’s worth of experience advising boards, CEOs and government officials globally across Energy and Natural Resources. Nichole is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and is the former Managing Director for Women in Mining (UK) and is a frequent speaker on issues such as governance and talent management. She has a family of American football enthusiasts with an uncle that is a former NFL quarterback and is keen to bring British American Football to a wider audience and participation base.

Ian Deakin

Senior Non-Executive Director

Ian is an employment solicitor, predominantly working with professional sports clubs from the top tiers of football and rugby. He has extensive commercial law experience and is skilled in giving simplistic, succinct and pragmatic advice to his clients. He has also served on the board of Warrington Wolves Supporters Trust and White Rose Academy Trust. He is a fan of all types of football in the UK, including football, rugby and of course American football.

Pete Ackerley


Pete has over 25 years of senior executive experience in sport development, including roles as Head of Development for the England and Wales Cricket Board and Head of Participation for the Football Association. Since 2017 he’s been consulting in the field of sport development. In addition to his extensive work experience, Pete also volunteers as a Trustee of Wembley National Stadium, a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Participation and Growth Board, Chair of Charitable programmes for The Lord’s Taverners and an independent non-executive director for the Lancashire Cricket Foundation.

Bruce Leatherman


With over 12 years of experience as a technically focused manager, Bruce has delivered multiple enterprise level software projects within the national government and financial sectors. He currently works as part of the senior leadership team for a global IT company, managing an engineering team based across the UK, Ireland and the Nordics. He has extensive experience of data security principles and will apply this knowledge to BAFA's business and data processes. A qualified American football coach and official, he has been involved in the British game for over 28 years.

Richard Watson


Richard is currently County Safeguarding Advisor at England & Wales Cricket Board and brings a wealth of specialist knowledge in safeguarding, discipline and supporting a volunteer workforce. Richard has extensive best practice knowledge from working in a national governing body of sport and hopes to apply this to BAFA. He is also a level four Football Association referee and a big fan of American football.

Colin Allen

Non-Executive Director

Colin has worked within the field of elite national athlete programme development for over 14 years. He started his career as an Athlete Investment Officer at UK Sport in 2006, before originally joining the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) in July 2010 as a Project Manager. He moved across to Northumbria University in June 2014, to work as part of their performance sport programme as a Talent Identification and Pathway Manger, before re-joining TASS in October 2015. Colin is currently the National Lead for Operations and is responsible for overseeing both the strategic and day-to-day planning and coordination for the scheme. Another aspect of his role involves leading on programme and
project work to support the development of National Governing Bodies’ England Talent Pathways and growing revenue streams by identifying and taking advantage of new opportunities.

Kenny Bello

Non-Executive Director

Kenny is founder and Managing Director of The UK Dukes – a company created to promote participation in American football all over the world. Often seen jet-setting as part of the popular social media venture, his day-to-day role includes leading a national school’s programme, working closely with several highly regarded charities, and supporting teams (domestic and internationally) to develop and improve. Kenny has a breadth of experience in American football spanning 16 years. In this time, he has worked as a fully qualified teacher, broken a Guinness World Record and worked for NFL UK on Community and Grassroots Development, bringing unique insight and aptitude to the innovation of their programs. A USA Football Master Trainer and Flag Development Officer for British American Football Coaches Association (BAFCA), Kenny has himself participated in both the flag and contact disciplines of the sport to the highest level, representing Team GB as a player and most recently, as a coach on the contact Women’s GB team.

Heather Smith

Non-Executive Director

Heather is Head of Programmes at Plan International UK. Prior to this she spent five years at Women in Sport as Associate Head of Innovation, which involved overseeing the development and management of new projects and relationships, as well as ensuring the long-term sustainability of the charity’s work through grant fundraising. Heather is a current member of the Sport for Development Coalition’s (SFDC) Board, representing a network of organisations committed to changing lives through the power of sport. She has been instrumental in writing the SFDC’s new four-year business plan and securing continuation funding for the organisation. Before joining Women in Sport, Heather worked in the development team’s at British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League. She graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2007 with a degree in Sport Science and Heather was part of the Sport Industry Group’s NextGen Leaders in 2017. In 2016, Heather launched Half Backs, a fun and engaging rugby-themed activity business for young children ages two to six. She has since sold Half Backs but is still actively involved in rugby union, having retired from a 20-year playing career is now the current chair of Teddington Rugby Club’s women’s team.

Umar Akhtar

Non-Executive Director

Umar Akhtar is a Non-Executive Director on the BAFA Board and Chair of the Audit Committee.

He has over 20 years of experience working as a professional within the worlds of finance and programme management. His experience spans from small corporates to a FTSE100 retailer.
Umar has successfully led programme teams in delivering business and technical change for Tesco, and holds professional qualifications in both accountancy and programme management.
Umar also has over a decade’s worth of experience as a trustee and treasurer of sports-based charity the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation. Umar helped the organisation promote diversity and inclusion in sport as well as strengthening the organisation from a financial and governance perspective.

Current representatives on International Boards are:

Gary Marshall, IFAF Europe Board