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India: Fulton announced as India’s new head coach Sport-rated




The 48-year-old South African with almost 25 years of coaching experience will join the team as soon as he completes the formalities.

Craig Fulton previously served as an assistant coach for Belgium (Hockey India)

Hockey India confirmed on Friday that South African Craig Fulton will be the new head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team, replacing Graham Reid, who resigned after India’s poor performance at the 2023 World Cup in January.

While the Australian led India to its first Olympic medal in 41 years in Tokyo, it was also under him that India finished ninth in Odisha, the worst show by a host in the tournament’s history.

The 48-year-old with almost 25 years of coaching experience will join the team as soon as possible after completing the formalities.

“I am very pleased to say that Hockey India has selected Craig Fulton for the head coaching position with the Indian men’s hockey team. I have had the honor of playing against him and now I look forward to working closely with him in this new phase,” said Hockey India Chairman Dilip Tirkey.

“He comes with tremendous coaching experience and his work ethic instills the confidence to elevate team performance in world hockey. I welcome Craig to India and wish him the best.”

As a South Africa international, Fulton made 195 caps over a 10-year span, from 1996 to 2005, also playing in the Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games. He also played in the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

As a coach, Fulton has shown exemplary results in his previous roles. His rise to fame began with a stint with the Irish men’s team as head coach between 2014 and 2018, when the team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. This was Ireland’s first Olympic qualification in 108 years. He guided Ireland to bronze at the 2015 EuroHockey Championship and also helped them qualify for the 2018 World Cup. His historic exploits helped him win the FIH Coach of the Year award in 2015.

Following his four-year stay with Ireland, Fulton joined Belgium as assistant to head coach Shane McLeod in 2018, helping them win the World Cup in Bhubaneswar later that year. He was also part of the Belgian team that won Tokyo Olympics gold and silver at the 2023 World Cup in Odisha.

He was named Belgium’s 2023 Coach of the Year after leading Belgian club Racing to the league title last season. Fulton is also currently the manager of the Belgian club KHC Dragons and has also had stints with clubs in England, Ireland and South Africa.

“It is an honor to be appointed as the head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team. India has a deep history and legacy in the sport and I look forward to working, taking this forward with the current team who have some very promising talent,” said Fulton, whose brother Grant and his wife Natalie were also South African internationals.

The announcement was made before the team’s home games in the Pro League. India will play four matches, two against newly crowned world champions Germany and Tokyo Olympics silver medalists Australia, at the Birsa Munda hockey stadium in Rourkela from March 10-15.

By Sandip Sikdar