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Neita-Headley hails Williams nursery at Melbourne

Published:Wednesday | August 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Natalie Neita-Headley (second right), minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, at yesterday's opening of the Ruddy Williams Centre of Excellence at Melbourne Cricket Club. At right is club president Mark Neita, while Ruddy Williams (centre) looks on. - Contributed

Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer

A training facility, named in honour of Melbourne Cricket Club stalwart, Ruddy Williams, was yesterday opened by sports minister without portfolio, Natalie Neita-Headley at the club's Courtney Walsh Avenue location.

The nursery, which comprises two concrete, and one clay batting strip, as well as secured netting was made possible as a result of a grant via the West Indies Cricket Board/Digicel Grassroots programme.

The grant, which has become commonplace in recent years across the region, was also used to partly set up computer and lecture rooms at the club, which has a 122-year history.

"Grassroots programmes like these consistently make a difference," Neita-Headley said during the opening, which coincided with the launch of Membourne's 30th staging of its annual summer cricket camp.

"These are the incubators. This is where we develop talent. These programmes take players to a higher level, teach them to bat and bowl early, so that they don't develop bad habits.

Neita-Headley, who in opening the facility, cut a ribbon in the presence of campers and club officials, also used the occasion to hail Melbourne for their continued contribution to national development.

"I know of many coaches, speakers and motivators, who will take part in the camp, including the honourable Courtney Walsh, Robert Samuels, Sandra Rettie, Dorothy Hobson, Wavell Hinds, who will make both the nursery and the camp an unforgettable experience," she said.

Nominated to receive a badge of honour for meritorious service during this year's National Heroes Day civic awards, Williams has been a member of Melbourne for 50 years.

Successful picks

He has since served in several capacities at the club, including player, captain, manager, executive and director, and at one stage rose to become chairman of the Jamaica panel of selectors for 10 years. He was a national selector for 13 years.

Williams, who represented Melbourne in the 1960s and 1970s, as chairman of selectors, went on to pick several victorious national teams since 2000, including seven at the regional first-class four-day level, and four at the regional one-day level.

The camp, which started on Monday, is scheduled to run for two weeks with the main sponsors being, Pure Water, and associate sponsors, Lucozade, Busta Soft Drink, Sherwin-Williams, Jamaica National Foundation, and JMMB Limited.