Craig Fulton appointed as head coach of Indian men's hockey team
The 48-year-old South African with nearly 25 years of coaching experience will join the team at the earliest upon completing formalities
Hockey India on Friday confirmed that South African Craig Fulton will be the new chief coach of the Indian men's hockey team, succeeding Graham Reid who resigned after India’s poor outing 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 joint ninth in Odisha – the worst show by a host in the history of the tournament.
The 48-year-old with nearly 25 years of coaching experience will join the team at the earliest upon completing formalities.
"I am very pleased to state that Hockey India has finalised Craig Fulton for the chief coach's role with the Indian men's hockey team. I have had the honour of playing against him and now I look forward to closely working with him in this new phase," said Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey.
"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."
As an international for South Africa, Fulton earned 195 caps over a span of 10 years, from 1996 to 2005, also playing at the 1996 Atlanta and 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He also played at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.
As a coach, Fulton has shown exemplary results in his previous roles. His rise to fame started with a stint with the Irish men's team as head coach between 2014 to 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. The historic feats helped him win the FIH Coach of the Year in 2015.
After his four-year stint with Ireland, Fulton joined Belgium as an 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 outfit that won the Tokyo Olympics gold and silver at the 2023 World Cup in Odisha.
He was named Belgium Coach of the Year 2023 after coaching Belgian club Racing to the league title last season. Fulton is also currently the coach of Belgian club KHC Dragons and has had club stints in England, Ireland and South Africa too.
“It is an honour 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 work, to taking this forward with the current team which has some very promising talent,” said Fulton, whose brother Grant and wife Natalie were also South Africa internationals.
The announcement was made ahead of the team's home matches in the Pro League. India will play four matches, two each against newly crowned world champions Germany and Tokyo Olympics silver medallists Australia, at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela from March 10 to 15.