Learners on the BTEC Level 3 Sports Coaching programme are based at the 3aaa County Ground twice a week under the guidance of Academy Director AJ Harris who enjoyed a 17-year first-class professional cricket career predominantly with Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
AJ explained: "This partnership with Derby College enables us to open up the opportunity for more players to get a more in-depth knowledge in the game.
"They benefit from the first class facilities here, take part in high quality coaching sessions and gain an insight into the wider job opportunities available in sport including coaching and physiotherapy. "Our sessions focus on the five aspects of sport – technical, tactical, physical, mental and lifestyle through practical and theory sessions. "Academy members also have one to one support to focus on areas of their cricket game that need to be improved and also their own future career aspirations. "We hope that this support complements their College course and will open up a far wider appreciation of the career opportunities within cricket and sport in general."
One of the Cricket Derbyshire Sports Academy members is Emma Thatcher (17) who plays senior cricket at Ockbrook and Borrowash Cricket Club and is also training with the Derbyshire senior women's team. Emma explained: "I was keen to join the Academy to improve my cricket and also to hopefully to give me the edge on my university applications to study sports physiotherapy.
"The coaching is amazing and we get a lot of one to one support to work on areas of the game that we need to improve. "We also get access to the latest coaching techniques and seeing AJ in action is a real inspiration so it is great to see how the theory is put into practice. "I have a far greater insight into the world of coaching and sports development now and it is an honour to be able to use the facilities and see behind the scenes of the county cricket club. "It's also a particularly exciting time to be part of women's cricket with Derbyshire being a host ground for the 2016 Women's Cricket World Cup."
Derby College Business Director April Hayhurst continued: "The Cricket Derbyshire Sports Academy has been launched alongside a wide range of other Employer Academies in response to identified skills gaps and growing job opportunities. "Sport is a growing sector both locally and nationally and a key element of the visitor economy which is a key growth area in this area identified by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership. "By working with employers such as Derbyshire Cricket Club, we are shaping the curriculum to their needs and ensuring that students benefit from direct input from industry professionals in the workplace. The young people also gain valuable work experience such as coaching. "This approach ensures that our students develop both the technical knowledge and the skills and attitudes that employers need – addressing skills shortages in the workplace to help businesses and organisations grow.
Derbyshire CCC Commercial Director Ryan Duckett concluded: "Members of the Cricket Derbyshire Sports Academy gain a valuable insight into the wealth of jobs available in cricket – on and off the field which they can take with them into the industry through whichever route they choose – jobs, apprenticeships or university.