Sandwell College Sport student Che Simmons has been awarded his first professional three-year contract by Warwickshire County Cricket Club after graduating from the Club’s Academy.
Fast bowler Che trialled with the Bears last summer and was subsequently awarded an Academy place, combined with his studies on the College’s Cricket Education Programme.
He also plays for Solihull Blossomfield Cricket Club in the Warwickshire County Cricket League.
Che said: “Warwickshire and Edgbaston are known around the world and to get this opportunity to become a professional and wear the Bear and Ragged Staff is something that I’m relishing.
“I’m very grateful to the support of all of the coaches, friends and family who have supported me on the journey so far and hopefully I can make a lot of people proud by stepping onto the field as a Bear.”
“Since starting at Sandwell College I have found the environment comfortable to learn in and the tutors do their best to support students and give the quality time needed to make sure everyone is up to date. I love how flexible and understanding the college is with my cricket, allowing me to play matches and train while studying. I would recommend the course to any young aspiring cricketer but also to anybody interested in cricket because of the world class professional environment here at Edgbaston.”
Scott Thomas, Head of Section in the Institute of Sport at Sandwell College, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Che has been awarded a professional contract with Warwickshire CCC. This is evidence of his hard work, unwavering dedication and natural skill as a fast bowler.
“We always wanted our partnership with Warwickshire CCC to provide the most inspiring of locations for our students to learn and prepare for a career in the professional sports industry – and it’s wonderful to see this come to fruition.
“Edgbaston is used regularly by the players of England, Warwickshire, Birmingham Bears and Birmingham Phoenix and it’s fantastic to see one of our students follow in their footsteps. Che is a real inspiration, a credit to the College and I’ve no doubt he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Che will continue his studies with us over the next 12 months and it is a privilege to support him during this time.”
Graham Pennington, Principal at Sandwell College, said: “We’d like to pass on our congratulations to Che for securing his first professional contract. This unique partnership with Warwickshire CCC has helped to create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for our students, and it’s wonderful that Che can fulfil his sporting ambitions.
“As a college, we are committed to providing the best possible outcomes for our learners, in a supportive and inspiring environment, and I’m so pleased that this programme is delivering such fantastic results for our students.”
”Che has made an incredible transformation over the winter,” said Warwickshire High Performance Manager Paul Greetham. “It’s a challenge for any young sports man or woman to come into a new culture and to understand the step up to a high-performance environment. But with the support of many good people around him, Che has shone.
“He has quickly adapted to the strength and conditioning requirements of an elite athlete, but our Academy tour of Sri Lanka in February was a turning point where he stood out as a senior member of the team. He bowled hostile spells and had significantly enhanced his batting, fielding and leadership skills. Che has had great backing from Paul Law and his colleagues at Solihull Blossomfield, who have looked after him brilliantly, but also Scott Thomas and Sandwell College for supporting his education, which will continue over the next 12 months. However, it’s now with him to take this next step up to the professional arena and we’re very excited at what he could achieve.”
Paul Farbrace, Director of Cricket at Warwickshire, said: “Che was recommended to me by Otis Gibson around 18 months ago. He subsequently trialled and we were very impressed by his potential. He’s gone on to work incredibly hard with our coaches and we think that he could have a very long and successful career with Warwickshire and potentially England.”