Birmingham Bears men's captain Carlos Brathwaite and women's team all-rounder Ria Fackrell handed out free coffee to staff and students at Birmingham City University to mark the return of the University’s name to team’s playing shirts and a two-year extension to the current commercial partnership.

Brathwaite and Fackrell popped along to the Curzon building on Thursday (5 May) along with Lydia Perry, a Sports Therapy student at BCU who is currently on a year-long placement with Warwickshire CCC, developing her skills and adding her expertise to the Bears backroom team. Together, they showed BCU students and staff the new Bears shirt, made from recycled coffee beans and featuring the distinctive I AM BCU stamp on its shoulders.

And to highlight the sustainable nature of the shirts, which is partly made from coffee beans, the pair also handed out free coffee from a Bears van to mark the occasion with the BCU community.

The return of BCU’s name to the T20 shirt is one of the most visible signs of the extension of the long-standing partnership between Warwickshire County Cricket Club and Birmingham City University. Alongside the shirts, which will be worn in this season and next year’s Vitality Blast, the partnership includes BCU branding in one of the most prominent locations of Edgbaston Stadium, on the top tier of the Birmingham End, as the venue hosts marquee men’s fixtures this summer against India and subsequently Australia in the 2023 Ashes series.

But aside from the visible branding on the shirt and at the stadium, the partnership also provides opportunities for BCU students to work with Warwickshire CCC’s elite teams on short or long-term placements. There are also opportunities for students to gain experience with its sports science, medical teams, performance analysis, media and marketing teams.

Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “We are deeply committed to our home city and the region which surrounds it, and this partnership provides a visible reminder of this commitment. But the partnership is about far more than seeing our name at Edgbaston Stadium, or even on the playing shirt, important as that is.

“It enables us to offer an impressive range of placement opportunities to our students, and not just those who are studying sport-related disciplines – we’re opening up opportunities across event and venue management, media and marketing, amongst others.

“It’s these types of placements which make a BCU education so distinctive – we are a practice-orientated University, and ensuring our students are able to access real-world opportunities to hone their skills is a vital part of what we do. And through this partnership, we also ensure we are giving back to the city, by using our students’ enthusiasm and expertise gained during their studies to enhance the work done at Edgbaston, and with one of our city’s premier sports clubs.”

“We’ve developed a fantastic relationship with BCU over the last eight years,” said Warwickshire CCC Commercial Partnerships Manager Ben Seifas.

“BCU has quickly established itself as a university of choice for those seeking careers in professional sport, and we want to support local students on that journey. We’re also very grateful that our teams and staff can access some of the great BCU facilities as part of our partnership.

“By securing this two-year extension, it ensures that the partnership will run for at least ten years. It also ensures that we can continue our educational pathway, with the launch of our Cricket Education Programme at Further Education level last September and now the Higher Education partnership with BCU.”