Stephen chasing European glory

American football star Stephen McCluskey, from Motherwell (pic courtesy of Duncan Gray, Duncolm Photography)
American football star Stephen McCluskey, from Motherwell (pic courtesy of Duncan Gray, Duncolm Photography)

A Motherwell teenager has been called up to play quarterback for Great Britain’s under-19 American football team taking part in this week’s European Championship qualifiers in Denmark.

Former Taylor High School pupil Stephen McCluskey is in the squad to face hosts Denmark on Friday and then the winners of Finland v Sweden on Sunday.

Stephen (17) left Taylor last year, at the end of fifth year, to attend the Bristol Academy of Sport after being selected for their PRIDE programme - an elite American Football academy for players aged 16-19.

The team is recognised as the best under-19 team in Great Britain and plays games in the UK and across Europe.

Stephen, who lives with a host family whilst studying sports science at SGS College, also plays for East Kilbride Pirates Juniors when he is in Scotland.

Stephen is hoping to go all the way to gold at the championship finals in Germany later this year - and is hoping to attract local sponsors to help him fulfil his dream.

He said: “Playing for the Great Britain Lions squad is the ultimate challenge in American Football in the UK.

“It’s a real chance to prove yourself. Every player involved has to really push themselves to get selected and continue to earn their spot.

“And I’m really proud to be representing the Pirates junior team at a national level as part of the GB squad.”

But although the sport’s national governing body, the British American Football Association, is heavily subsidising the junior programme’s overseas travel, Stephen still has to make a personal contribution and make his own way to join the national squad in Stansted for their fights to Denmark.

EK Pirates chairman Amanda McDonald explained: “All of our young players selected for the GB u19s squad have earned their spots through some exemplary hard work and determination to succeed.

“We’re hugely proud of them. But competing internationally is a costly business.

“All GB players are able to seek sponsors to help offset their costs so we’d like to appeal to local businesses.

“If anyone out there is interested in sponsoring Stephen, please get in touch though our club email address info@piratesfootball.co.uk.”