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We need to be physically stronger for Paris: Men’s hockey team head coach Craig Fulton

Craig Fulton.
| Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Craig Fulton, who took charge as head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team in April, has done a pretty good job so far. India won the Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai and then went on to bag the gold medal in the Asian Games in Hangzhou thereby qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In an interview to The Hindu here on Saturday on the sidelines of the Senior Nationals, the 49-year-old South African said: “If you had said in the first four months that there are three competitions and you have to qualify [for Paris Olympics] 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, was to watch out for some exciting talent at the Nationals. “I always look for young talent. The 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 camp right after the Senior Nationals. We have to look after them,” observed Fulton.

According to him, the next three months will be quite hectic for the men’s team as it gears up for the Olympics. “We have a 5-nation tournament in Spain, then we go to South Africa and then come back to India for the FIH Pro League in February,” he said.

The key, said the head coach, was to get physically stronger for Paris. “We are not trying out any new things. It is all about being able to do things better than what we have been doing already. We need to be physically stronger for Paris,” he observed.

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