Meet the team

Mark Ellis
RIASA Director
Former Professional Player, Bradford City FC

Co-founder and Director at RIASA, Mark is a former professional footballer, who played for his hometown club Bradford City for over 12 years. He represented them in three different divisions gaining two promotions and played in two league cup quarter finals before a serious knee injury unfortunately brought his English career to a premature end. However, he did go on to play further for Hellenic FC, a former Premier League club in Cape Town South Africa.

After Mark retired from playing, he then went on to a very successful career in coachingBeginning initially in the U.S, Minnesota for two years then at Oakland University, Detroit MI for over 15 years where he was solely responsible for the summer soccer camps.

He also coached local semi– professional team, The Michigan Bucks in the PDL during this time.

During the English season Mark coached College football as well as working for English Championship club Huddersfield Town in their academy for 8 years.

Mark then returned to South Africa to Coach Ajax Cape Town u17s. 

Marks professional contacts are now global. In Europe, Mark has forged strong links with clubs in Finland, Norway and Sweden where he has placed several RIASA students. He has also spent time in South America, Brazil at former World Cup legend Zicos club and has more recently returned from China where he is working towards further opportunities for RIASA students. 

Coaching Staff

Rob Jones
Head Academy Coach
UEFA A Licensed Coach

Rob has been part of the professional game for over 20 years.

With over 470 professional appearances for teams including; Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Hibernian FC, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers Rob brings with him his knowledge and experience of what it takes to make it and maintain a career as a professional footballer.

Over this time Rob has successfully captained his clubs in a variety of leagues including:  The Championship, Football Leagues, SPL and the Europa League achieving numerous promotions and cup success. During Rob’s playing career he has also held the role of Caretaker Manager, Head of Development- U21 level and Academy Coach.

Rob has 12 years coaching experience and is a UEFA ‘A’ Licenced Coach. Rob also holds qualifications in FA Youth Modules 1,2 and 3, UEFA Advanced Youth Award and holds FA qualifications in Talent Identification and Sports Psychology.

With a successful career behind him Rob has a wealth of contacts in the game and has strong relationships with a wide range of football clubs.

Donald Park, head of coach education Scottish FA on Rob Jones

“A coach that is always looking to improve and challenge himself, Rob has a current, inventive and innovative approach to coaching, and is very well respected within the game through his leadership qualities. Using the advantage of his playing career, which included leagues in England, Scotland and European competitions to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become an upcoming and exciting coach with a very bright future in the game”.

John Hendrie
Academy Coach
UEFA A Licensed coach

John played at the Premiership level with Newcastle United, Middleborough, Leeds United, Barnsley and Bradford City FC. John has also been the manager of Barnsley FC when they were in the English Premiership; John also holds the UEFA “A” Coaching License.

John has numerous contacts within the professional game and will be responsible for coordinating the games for RIASA with professional youth team academies. John will represent all RIASA players who are looking to play at any professional level. He has already managed and consulted with several top premiership players including Robbie Savage, Leicester City FC, Birmingham City FC and Welsh International, Mark Schwarzer Australian International and Fulham Goalkeeper, Stuart Mc Call Bradford City FC Manager, Everton and Scotland International, and Dean Windass, Bradford City & Hull City FC.

Kamran Stead
Assistant Academy Coach
UEFA B License in progress

Kamran been coaching football full time since 2012, and is currently waiting assessment on his UEFA B License, having achieved his FA Youth Award.

Kamran has worked with all age groups, from 5-21 years olds and has worked for RIASA since 2012 also coaching at Bradford College.

He also coaches the RIASA summer camp experience in Leeds. He will work as an assistant to the academy coaches helping with the development of technical and tactical understanding of developmental players.

John Francis
UEFA A Licensed Coach

John played between 1985 and 2003 for a number of professional and semi professional clubs in England.

John played as a winger and a centre forward, renowned for his blistering pace. He retired from professional football in 1997 due to the continuing reoccurrence of major knee issues, though continued to play for a few more years at semi pro level.

Playing career:

  • Halifax Town 1985-1986
  • Emley FC 1986 -1988
  • Sheffield Utd Fc – 1988-1989
  • Burnley Fc 1989-1992
  • Cambridge Utd 1992-1993
  • Burnley Fc 1993 – 1996
  • Scunthorpe 1996 – 1997
  • Emley Fc 1997-1999
  • Farsley 1999 – 2000
  • Whitby town 2000- 2001
  • Bradford PA 2001 – 2002
  • Ossett T 2002 – 2003

John has played in over 250 professional/semi professional games and scored 92 goals at all levels.

John is a well experienced A Licence coach with experience at Leeds Utd academy for eight years and Burnley as Youth development phase manager for U12-U16s age groups for six years.

Playing a role in the development of current premier league players Fabian Delphi, Danny Rose, Lewis Cook, Sam Byram.

Kyle Jordan
UEFA B License in Progress

FA Youth Award & BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences graduate at Liverpool John Moore’s University, Kyle uses his education and experiences to help understand the whole athlete, physical and psychological systems, and then optimising their systems through integration of soccer training methods.

Kyle began Coaching in 2010, after having played for professional clubs Motherwell FC & Linfield FC.

Kyle has experiences coaching at Glasgow Rangers FC & Leeds United Academy.

He has also worked for the West Riding County Football Association coaching various ages and abilities of both genders.

Kyle spends the off season coaching and managing soccer clinics in the America during the summer for UK Elite Soccer, having coached down the East Coast, Mid-West and most recently Texas.

Karl Leneghan
Goalkeeping Coach

Karl has played both professional and semi professional football for over 35 years. His career started at the age of 16 when he was signed professional terms with Bradford City in 1979. After Bradford City FC he continued to play over 800 games at Conference Level.

On finishing playing he undertook his professional Football Association coaching qualifications allowing him to coach at the semi professional level.

He currently works as the Goalkeeping Coach at Harrogate Town, having previously worked at Halifax Town and Chester FC as a 1st team Goalkeeper coach.

During his time at Halifax two of Karl’s goalkeepers have been selected for the England C team with Simon Eastwood going on to sign professionally for Blackburn Rovers, as well as coaching whilst Jamie Vardy and Lee Gregory were there.

Mark Cox
Head of Physio
BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, MCSP, AACP

Mark qualified from Bradford University in 2002 and gained his experience at Airedale  General Hospital.

Mark has worked with RIASA since the start of the program, assisting RIASA athletes with player injuries and rehabilitation.

He also works for Bingley Physiotherapy Sports Injury Clinic, having joined the practice over 12 years ago.

Administrative Staff

Dawn Craven
Head of Operations

Dawn has over 20 years experience within the higher education field. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the football program with the academic and football staff.

Dawn has been working in the fitness/leisure industry for over 25 years, 15 of those as a Lecturer/Head of Department in the post 16, Further and Higher Education Sector. Dawn has specialized in the fields of Sport/Health Related Exercise and Fitness and Public Services and currently holds ‘Qualified Teacher Status’.

In addition to Dawn’s role as Head of Operations,  she will undertake the role as RIASA Sports Therapist, Nutritionalist and Pastoral/Mentor Coach, providing support for both students and parents and enhancing the link between the soccer program and the educational institutes.

Alia Szurma Hasani
League Secretary & Merchandise

Alia is Secretary of the Lancashire League football teams and deals with all football administration. Ensuring that RIASA’s 10-month soccer season runs smoothly. In addition, Alia is responsible for the academy’s store. Furthermore, utilising her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Photography from Leeds Metropolitan University, Alia often captures action shots during RIASA fixtures.

Before joining RIASA, Alia has travelled extensively, working in Europe, America and as far afield as New Zealand, using her career in Hospitality Management to fund her travels. She also speaks French, Spanish, and Czechoslovakian.

Gene Klein

Head of Recruitment, USA

Gene has over 40 years of coaching experience at the youth, high school, collegiate and professional level. Serving as an assistant coach, head coach, general manager and technical director for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League. In addition, Klein was the Region I staff coach for the United States Olympic Development Program (ODP) for over 12 years. Also, Gene is the Former Director of Coaching and Player Development for the PA West Soccer Association. Klein also holds bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s of education in Health & Physical Education/Sports Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nowadays, alongside his role with RIASA, Gene is the Regional Coordinator for GoPlay Sports Tours and a scout for US Boys’ Youth National Teams. Utilising his vast experience in soccer and over 3 decades as a high school teacher and administrator, Gene is on a mission to help budding RIASA student-athletes through the process of discovering and joining the academy!

Sarah Crossland
Recruitment Co-Ordinator

Sarah is the Recruitment Coordinator for RIASA and she works very closely with Richmond University to ensure that the application process runs efficiently. Based at Bradford City F.C.’s prestigious 1911 Club, Sarah is the first point of contact in the RIASA recruitment process.

Boasting a wide-ranging career history, Sarah has also worked in education for 10 years supporting students and staff. She also worked with students who had special educational needs (SEN) supporting them in an educational setting. In addition, she has worked as an administrator at a Leeds-based solicitor and in the finance department for Virgin Media. Now, she is a valued and vitally important member of the RIASA team.

Charlie Sharkett

Digital Marketing Coordinator

MA Sport Business

In essence, Charlie is responsible for the academy’s online presence. Brought into the academy in 2017 through a graduate internship programme with the Sport Business Subject Group at Leeds Beckett University, he oversees RIASA’s website operations, social media output and digital marketing strategy. He is primarily motivated by a passion to provide talented young soccer players with a drive to succeed academically with the means to learn more about the academy and the incredible opportunities we offer.

Alongside his work with RIASA, Charlie is a part-time seminar tutor of Digital Business at Leeds Beckett University. He is the proud owner of a Master’s degree in Sport Business from Leeds Beckett University, through which he researched the rise in popularity of football fan YouTube channels and the tremendous impact that this shift in sport consumers behaviour is having on the sports marketing landscape. In addition, Charlie also holds a BA (Hons) Physical Education degree, focused on the ongoing debate on anti-doping procedures in sport. Furthermore, Charlie has experience working in event operations at music festivals, charitable celebrity football events and sports sponsorship lead generation with EFS Sports.