Indian Hockey Team

Who is Craig Fulton: The new head coach of India men’s hockey team

Arpan GhoshArpan Ghosh

March 3 2023
Indian men's hockey team coach Craig Fulton

The 48-year-old was the assistant coach of the Belgium team that won the 2018 World Cup and Olympics gold in Tokyo.

Craig Fulton was announced as the head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team on Friday. He replaces former head coach Graham Reid. who decided to step down after India’s lackluster performance at the Hockey World Cup at home in January.

The 48-year-old was Belgium’s assistant coach at the Tokyo Olympics, where they clinched the gold medal. As a player, Fulton represented South Africa in the Olympics in 1996 and 2004 and the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2002. 

He was also the assistant coach when Belgium won the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The 48-year-old received the FIH Coach of the Year award in 2015 when he was Ireland’s head coach. It was his effort that took the Irish to their first-ever Olympic qualification in a century, in Rio de Janeiro. The 2015 Men’s EuroHockey Nations Championship saw Ireland finish third under Fulton’s coaching.

What does Craig Fulton bring to the Indian men’s hockey team?

Fulton is a terrific leader and has approximately 25 years of coaching experience. He may be the ideal fit for India because Belgium was a powerful force with him in the dugout. The Indian team plays a more skillful and strategically refined style that relies less on physicality. India must not concede a cheap penalty corner since they may be crucial, and a strong defense is essential for victory. “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”

Given his extensive background and 195 international games, Craig Fulton will concentrate on the Indian team’s defence. He was a mainstay on Belgium’s bench, where he gave the team a lot of in-game instructions. The Belgium sides of the last decade were typified by a 4-3-3 with a free man utilizing a half-court pressing system with a combination of zonal and man marking. There’s no reason to suppose it won’t be used here. 

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Those who came before Craig did the majority of the job. A coach of the newer generation, Fulton is known for his love of data and analysis. He uses the technology to make important technical tweaks in players’ techniques. Fulton’s addition to the team might also herald a newer approach to games. The focus might shift from the established players to finding out the younger players in the fringe, according to people in the know.

Dilip Tirkey, Hockey India president, stated, “I have had the honor of playing against him, and now I look forward to closely working with him in this new phase for the men’s hockey team. He comes with tremendous experience in coaching, and his work ethic induces confidence in raising the team’s performance in world hockey. I welcome Craig to India and wish him the best.” 

“It is an honor to be appointed in the role of Chief Coach for The Indian Men’s Hockey team. India has a deep history and legacy of the sport, and I look forward to working to take this forward with the current team, which has some very promising talent,” Fulton stated. India will face Germany on March 10th, with interim coaches David John, BJ Kariappa, and Shivendra Singh in charge.

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