[Charlestown] – On Monday, June 19, 2017 this media house had the pleasure of sitting down with the great Elquemedo ‘Tonitto’ Willett, Member of the British Empire (MBE) for an interview at our headquarters.
The interview involved questions surrounding his recent acquisition of the MBE Award, his contribution to sports, and the current state of cricket on the island of Nevis.
According to Mr. Willett in response to an invited comment about the award, he is pleased to have been recognized. He was of the view that it is always good to be honored. He readily admitted however, that those things generally do not get him too excited.
“I’ve gotten the independence award some years ago. I can’t remember exactly when. I got the Medal of Honor in St. Kitts six or seven years ago, and Kim Collins got a Medal of Honor that same year. So it’s not the first time. I’ve been honored overseas. Up to last year I went to the Bronx in New York and Nevisians there honored me with a “Sir”.
“You know, it’s not an official Sir, but they see me as Sir. Most people feel that it should have been a Sir but it doesn’t bother me. It’s just a name. I don’t know what benefits there are in it or if there are any privileges. So I guess it doesn’t really matter so I don’t get really excited about these things,” he stated.
When asked what gets him excited then, the answer was simple; sports.
“I played cricket for many years for Nevis. I played for the Leeward Islands and Combined Islands. In those days when I first started, the Leeward and Windward played as one team in the West Indies Competition against Barbados and Guyana and so on. Then the Leeward [Islands] played on its own after a while.”
“We had to make the Leeward Island team to play against the Windward Islands. There were a couple trial matches to determine the Combined Island team. I was the first person from the Leeward Islands to play for West Indies” Mr. Willett explained.
In terms of his experience playing cricket at that level, Mr. Willett had this to say.
“Cricket was my thing from since very small. It was a good experience getting to travel. I’ve been throughout the Caribbean many times and it was while in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that I got the news that I had made West Indies team,” he recalled.
Mr. Willett also worked as a coach at the Charlestown Primary School, aiding the youngsters with cricket, football and athletics. According to Mr. Willett, there seems to be more of a push with athletics rather than cricket in recent times. This is reflected in the current construction of the Mondo Athletic Track while little to no funds has been used for the upkeep and improvement of the E.T Park which is the main venue for cricket here on Nevis.
The E.T. Park was named in honor of Mr. Willett.
Willett went on to state that when it comes to the direction that cricket and sports on a whole is going in Nevis, he believes that it is not going.
“There is no netball. For four or five years there has been no netball in Nevis. There is hardly any cricket. I don’t know why. Maybe the Cricket Association has not been organized properly, but there hasn’t been any proper cricket.
“As a matter of fact, for the last few years there hasn’t been any proper cricket in the Leeward Islands. They have attempted to organize a competition the last few times, but hardly ever finishes because after a couple of matches, it’s all down the drain,” he stated.
“So it’s hardly any cricket, no netball and hardly any football on Nevis.”
Mr. Willett further said that for this to improve, persons will just have to get up and go play cricket and stop waiting for it to be organized by the officials.
On Wednesday, June 14, 2017 he received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) presented by Governor General of St. Kitts-Nevis, His Excellency Sir S.W Tapley Seaton at his official residence in St. Kitts.