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Huge Challenge Awaits Craig Fulton – the 9th Foreign Coach of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team

Former South African fullback Craig Fulton becomes the ninth foreign chief coach of the Indian men’s hockey team. Fulton would have an exceedingly challeging job of building on the positive strides the national team made under outgoing coach Graham Reid. Fulton was part of the South African men’s hockey team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where the African side made all sit up and take notice of them, holding mighty Australia to a 1-1 draw in the pool phase and eventually finished 10th. Fulton formed a lethal combination at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics alongside profilic goal-scorer Greg Nicol (currently New Zealand men’s hockey team coach) and Gregg Clark (outgoing Assistant coach of the Indian men’s team).

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Hockey runs in Fulton’s family – his elder brother Grant Fulton play alongside Craig Fulton at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – his younger sister Natalie Fulton also represented South Africa at the 2002 World Cup and 2004 Olympics. The trend of foreign coaches taking charge of the Indian men’s hockey team started nineteen years back when the then Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) appointed Germany’s Gerhard Rach just days before the 2004 Athens Olympics, who of course had a short stint.

Spaniard Jose Brasa was the second foreign coach of the Indian men’s team appointed in May 2009 – subsequently Australian Michael Nobbs took charge in 2011 before his fellow countryman Terry Walsh was handed over the reins of the national team in 2013 – the fourth foreign coach of the Indian men’s team. The trend of Dutch coaches taking charge of the Indian men’s hockey team kickstarted in early 2015 when Paul Van Ass was given the ‘hot seat’ – the fifth foreign coach of the Indian men’s team but his stint was a highly controversial one and he was replaced by another Dutchman Roelant Oltmans in mid-2015, who was available in India at that time serving as Hockey India High Performance Manager.

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Roelant Oltmans – the sixth foreign coach of the Indian men’s team was replaced in 2017 by another Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne (capping off a hat-trick of Dutch coaches). Graham Reid became the eighth foreign coach of the Indian men’s team in mid-2019 and he is now replaced by Craig Fulton – the ninth foreign coach of the Indian men’s team.

Craig Fulton’s rise to fame as a hockey coach has been his incredible work he orchestrated with the Ireland men’s hockey team between 2014 and 2018, where he propelled the Green Machine’s entry at the 2016 Rio Olympics – his stint as Assistant Coach of the Belgium men’s hockey team earned him a lot of respect as a coach as well. He was part of the Belgium coaching set-up when the Red Lions won the 2018 World Cup as well as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics gold.

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Coaching the Indian men’s hockey team is perhaps one of the most demanding jobs in world given the massive fan-following the sport – Craig Fulton would know that and would be up for the challenge – his immediate priority would be to join the national side and help the Blueshirts carve out a solid performance in the 2022-23 Pro League and win the Asian Games and seal a direct spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Foreign Coaches of the Indian men’s hockey team

CoachCountryStint Time Period
Graham ReidAustraliaApril 2019-January-2023
Sjoerd Marijne NetherlandsSeptember-2017-May 2018
Roelant OltmansNetherlandsJuly 2015-September 2017
Paul Van AssNetherlandsJanuary 2015-July 2015
Terry WalshAustraliaOctober 2013-October 2014
Michael NobbsAustraliaJune 2013-July 2013
Jose BrasaSpainMay 2009-October 2010
Gerhard RachGermanyJuly 2004-January 2005