Craig Fulton took charge in April this year as head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team and has done a pretty good job so far.
India won the Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai and went on to bag the gold medal in the Asian Games in Hangzhou thereby qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 49-year-old South African knew what he was getting into when he accepted the offer.
In an interview with Sportstar here on the sidelines of the Senior Nationals, Fulton said: “If you had said in the first four months that there are three competitions and you have to qualify [for Paris] and still try and play the way you want to play, it didn’t sound easy at all. But now we have a bit more time and a better understanding of the squad and the environment. I am enjoying it.”
The reason for his Chennai visit, Fulton said will be to watch out for some exciting talent at the Nationals. “I always look for young talents. Nationals is a place to do it. We have a good core group at the moment for seniors. You have to stand right out to get into the group. I am looking forward to the next nine-10 days,” he said.
This time, Hockey India has got the assistant coach Rhett Halkett and a physio to monitor the national team players competing here.
“It is important to have an idea of injuries to our national players as we have a national camp right after the Senior Nationals. We have to look after the national players and the emerging talent,” observed Fulton.
According to him, the next three months will be quite hectic for the Indian men’s team as it gears up for Paris Olympics.
“We have a 5-nation tournament in Spain, then we go to South Africa and we then come back to India for the FIH Pro League in February. The next three and half months will be very busy,” he said.
The key, said the head coach, is to get physically stronger for Paris. “We are not trying out any new things. It is all about to be able to do things better than what we have been doing already, and we want to be more consistent under pressure. We need to set a certain standard and get better and be physically stronger for Paris,” he observed.
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