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Simons hopes to inspire next generation

Rai Simons is back home enjoying his summer break after an encouraging first season at Sky Bet League One club Chesterfield and looking forward to the new season which starts in August.

Simons took in the festivities of Bermuda Day on Tuesday, but now his focus switches back to football as he turned out to train with the Bermuda team last night in preparation of their second round matches in the Caribbean Cup next month against French Guiana and Dominican Republic.

The away match is in French Guiana on June 1 before Bermuda host Dominican Republic on June 4 at North Field, the National Sports Centre.

“I was there just taking it all in, just seeing all my friends and family and just enjoying a little break while I can,” Simons said. “It's the only holiday I get to spend with my family so I try to make sure I'm here for it.

“I made my rounds, seeing people who I haven't seen since last year. I'm enjoying it, relaxing before getting ready for the games coming up. After that I'll rest and recover and get ready for preseason.”

Simons last turned out for Bermuda in June against Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier. Bermuda lost the home match 1-0, but Simons gave Bermuda hope of grabbing an equaliser after coming on as a 69th minute substitute.

With main striker Nahki Wells out injured, Simons could be a key figure up front in a young team that coach Andrew Bascome has put together.

“I'm looking forward to playing at the National Stadium again in front of my home crowd,” said the 20-year-old. “It's always good to kick a ball. Hopefully I start and can play the whole game.

“Bermudians can come out and see Reggie [Lambe] and me and everybody else who is playing abroad. Even with the young kids, I was just like them at their age watching Bermuda play, and hopefully I can inspire the next generation to get out there and get themselves some contracts abroad.

“They just need to show the motivation and determination above all. There is lots of talent, we've got to apply it.”

Simons seized his opportunity with both hands when Chesterfield signed him from Ilkeston of the Northern Premier League.

His height, pace and strength caused problems for opposing defenders, scoring such a goal when he netted his first goal October against Gillingham in a 3-1 home loss.

“I'm in a perfect location, central to everywhere I want to go so I can't complain at all,” Simons said.

Simons made 22 appearances last term, scoring five goals, and now aims to build on that after signing a one-year extension to his original two-year contract.

“I'm happy to stay and hopefully I can play some games next year and make a big impact next season like I did this season,” said Simons, who returns to Chesterfield for preseason training on July 4.

“I thought it was going to take a while to get into professional football, but I feel it suits me more than playing non-league or playing in Bermuda. It's more a thinking game than a physical game.

“It was everything I could have asked, it has its ups and downs which you need in life. Football could be beautiful and at the same time it can be cruel.

“Pre-season is vital and if I can get a good start and keep the momentum who knows what can happen.

“We [Chesterfield] ended the season kind of strong so hopefully we can build on where we left off and see where it takes us.”

Simons added: “I go back with a year's experience and will know what to expect and what to look for.

“I'm looking for regular first team football so that I can show everybody week in and week out what I'm capable of.

“It's a very big step [from Ilkeston], even just seeing little kids looking up to me as a footballer. Even if they don't speak I see them whispering and pointing.”

Big step up: Simons said his year at Chesterfield had been everything he could have asked for (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 26, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 26, 2016 at 8:19 am)

Simons hopes to inspire next generation

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