Log In

Reset Password

Teen Simons signs for Ilkeston’s Academy

Striker Rai Simons has become the latest Bermuda import at Ilkeston FC after joining the UK non-league club’s Academy.

The 17-year-old, who made his national team debut at the NatWest Island Games, joins compatriots Antwan Russell, Lejuan Simmons and Dante Leverock at the Derbyshire-based side.

Simons met with Ilkeston chairman Dave Mantle in Bermuda last week after being recommended by Bermuda Hogges owner Paul Scope, who forged a partnership between the two clubs last season.

Scope said Simons was ideally suited for the move having lived in the UK for a number of years and expects more Bermudians to sign for Ilkeston this summer.

“Rai has been attending school near Stoke and has experience of English football having played for (non-league) Newcastle Town last season,” said Scope.

“I think that’s been good for him and I think he recognised he needed to get away (from Bermuda).

“At Newcastle they only train twice a week whereas they train everyday at Ilkeston so this will be good for his development.

“I’ve seen Rai play for the National Academy and for Bermuda at the Island Games. He looks a top prospect for his age and has good physicality and a level-head.”

A key factor in Simons’ decision to join Ilkeston’s Academy was the opportunity to gain his qualifications as part of the club’s Education Programme.

Ilkeston deliver a variety of courses at both their purpose built education block at the New Manor Ground and their off-site facility in nearby Nottingham.

Scope said Simons’ annual scholarship as an international student, costing $20,000 per year, would be covered by money initially raised for Hogges’ 2013 season before their withdrawal due to lack of funds.

“Rai is delighted to be the first recipient of the scholarship programme that we’re getting going between Ilkeston and the Hogges,” said Scope.

“We’ve used some of the funding that the Hogges raised and this way Rai will have an education to fall back on.

“It’s a good intense education programme which Ilkeston provide rather than a third party.

“The grand ambition is to get as many as ten Bermudian players at Ilkeston’s Academy but we want to make sure we get the funding in place first and don’t overdo it.”

Simons had been offered trials at Walsall on the recommendation of the club’s former Bermuda striker Kyle Lightbourne.

Despite joining Ilkeston’s Academy for the next two years, Scope said Simons would still be permitted to have an opportunity at League One Walsall later this season.

“Kyle had got him lined up for a trial at Walsall and that’s why we delayed fixing this up with Ilkeston,” he added.

“Both Rai and his mom felt good about Ilkeston after they met with the club’s representatives and decided it was best he joined their Academy.

“But I’ve talked to Ilkeston and we’re going to make sure he gets that opportunity at Walsall. Being at Ilkeston won’t stop him having opportunities elsewhere.”

Simons, whose mother Karen Jones in skipper of Bermuda national netball team, scored twice against Falkland Islands at last month’s Island Games.

Ilkeston play in the seventh tier of the English game.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am (Updated July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am)

Teen Simons signs for Ilkeston’s Academy

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon