Involvement by fans a big factor in my playing days - Muneer Sait

Sportstar caught up with distinguished former India hockey goalkeeper Muneer Sait, who was part of the Indian team that won the bronze in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. He had arrived at the launch of Sportstarlive.

'During my time, when hockey was popular, we played in front of packed stadiums and having fans chant your name really gave me a kick', said Muneer Sait (seated centre).   -  R.Ragu

One of the outstanding hockey goalkeepers of his time, Muneer Sait was part of the Indian team that won the bronze in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. For his work on field hockey, the International Hockey Federation awarded Sait the President’s Award in 2005. Hockey India inducted Sait as part of the five-member selection committee in 2009 and he is also associated with Squash Rackets Federation of Tamil Nadu. We caught up with the Olympian for an informal chat during the launch of Sportstarlive.

Edited excerpts:

What’s your impression of Sportstar? We are going live with our website…

The launch party was very well organised. It is nice to see a variety of sportspersons attending this event. Good representation from tennis, cricket, squash, snooker and also chess. I’ve been a regular reader of Sportstar and The Hindu. Actually, I’ve been recognised by The Hindu and have been getting complementary issues of the magazine.

What is the best part of being a sportsman in India?

I’ve loved sports every since my schooldays. We never had the distraction of the television, Twitter and Facebook so we had plenty of time to play. I have played hockey since my Loyola college days. During my time, when hockey was popular, we played in front of packed stadiums and having fans chant your name really gave me a kick. As a matter of fact, I played the 1966 national championships in Madurai in front of a full house. Everyday my photo would come in The Hindu as the outstanding goalkeeper. That boosted my image all over the country and got me selected for the Indian team.

What’s the flipside of being a sportsman?

The negative side, especially with respect to hockey, was the lack of money and encouragement from the associations. Those days we had to make our own arrangements for travel and accommodation for different national tournaments. I paid from my own pocket to go to Jalandhar via New Delhi for different competitions. It was a difficult time but we got through thanks to the love for the sport.