There was no feni in sight, but it was books and beer at the launch of a book called Goans in Sport by former hockey international and Tata Sports Club hockey player, Avitus D’Cruz at Mumbai’s Press Club, recently.
The author sat amidst a galaxy of sports stars with Goan origins at the launch. The book is a chronicle of achievements by some known and unknown Goan sport stars.
Hockey international Joaquim Carvalho who was part of the panellists on the dais first congratulated ‘Avi’ on his book saying that, “when it comes to spotting talent on the hockey field, this stalwart was second to none.”
Carvalho recalled Avitus watching him play hockey when he was very young. Avitus had gone up to Carvalho and told him, “Son, one day you will play for India.”
Carvalho also said that Avitus himself played hockey at a time when greats like Ajitpal Singh and Vece Paes were playing, so competition was tough.
Eliza Nelson, former hockey international and captain of the 1980 Indian women’s hockey team at the Moscow Olympics said, ‘I feel very proud of being a Goan today. Usually, we take a backseat and are not known to praise ourselves.” Eliza also spoke about Avitus as a coach saying, “he has been at our matches and has also coached us.”
International football referee Alex Vaz, added that it was the first time that a Goan has come forward to highlight the achievements of Goans and that itself, “is unique”.
The fourth and final panellist, Avitus, said he was “relieved” that his book was over, “I wanted to highlight the outstanding contribution of these sportspersons — some of them well known and the others, not that well-known,” he said.
He was asked why his book read more like a compilation or compendium, a listing of these sportspersons. “Why couldn’t you talk to these sport stars?” he was asked.
Avitus said, “It was very difficult to trace all of them. I sent out 40 questionnaires and got replies to two of them. Sometimes, these sports stars would tell me to come to Madgaon to interview them, but, when I reached Madgaon they would still be in Panjim,” said Avitus citing the difficulty in tracking them down.
The book is not in bookstores as yet. “We have to still put a price and decide about that,” said Avitus. However for sports lovers and Goans, this book, with sunshine boy, Leander Paes on the cover, is a useful Goa-stars-at-a-glance read.