WICB DIGICEL GRASSROOTS GRANT RESCUES NEIL WILLIAMS CRICKET CENTRE FROM CLOSUREMonday 19th September 2011
Kingstown, St Vincent – As a result of lack of finances to cover basic expenses the Neil Williams Cricket Centre was in danger of closure.
The WICB Digicel Grassroots Grant will literally rescue the Centre from closing its doors and revive the training programme which caters to 70 boys from across St Vincent.
“The grant would breathe new life into the Centre because we were really struggling and we were wondering how we would pay the coaches and run the programme,” said Dierdre Anthony, who is the treasurer of the NWCC Organizing Committee.
“The parents are really grateful that the programme will continue because it gives the boys something to do. We all know that the young boys are falling off but this programme has most of the boys focussed, they are even performing well academically,” Anthony revealed.
“In fact most of the boys who have been in the programme have gone off to university,” said Anthony as she beamed with pride.
West Indies Under 19 wicketkeeper batsman Sunil Ambris is the NWCC’s most prominent former student. After a successful WICB Under 19 Tournament for Windward Islands, Ambris has been called to the Combined Campuses and Colleges trials for the upcoming Regional Super50.
Atticus Browne who played for the Windward Islands Under 15 and Under 19 teams and now plays for the St Vincent senior team is another former NWCC student.
Zane Williams, Devane Warner and Kendal Hinds are others who have gone on to play for the St Vincent Under 15 team. Williams is now studying at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies while Hinds who captained the St Vincent Under 15 side is studying in Canada.
“We really want to continue the Centre because we think we are providing a good service to the community and to St Vincent,” Anthony said.
The NWCC, which is based at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, is the first cricket group from St Vincent to win a WICB Digicel Grassroots Grant. The Centre has secured one of eight grants which the WICB will distribute in the second period of the Grant scheme after ten clubs won grants in the first period.
In addition to cricket training and fitness the NWCC also offers presentations on anger management and dining etiquette for the students.
NWCC, which was opened in the late 1990s, was founded by St Vincent born Windward Islands all rounder Neil Williams who played one Test for England. Williams was at the helm until his death in 2006 at age 43. Windward Islands Head Coach Ian Allen who worked alongside Williams, is now the Head Coach of the Centre.
There was uncertainty about the continuity of the Centre after Williams’ passing but after parents recognized that the students continued to go to the field and play cricket they decided to form an Organizing Committee to manage the affairs of the Centre.
Initially they collected a membership fee of EC$25 per month from each student to pay the coaches fees and settle other basic expenses. The parents donate snacks and drinks. In previous years the NWCC had received one-off grants from the St Vincent government and a few private companies but the funding has dried up since.
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