Deccan Chronicle

Fulton ready for home turf challenge


The Asian Champions Trophy, starting here on Thursday, will be a significan­t milestone for India’s new hockey coach Craig Fulton as the South African faces his first challenge on home turf. Having been appointed as coach in March, Fulton missed the FIH Pro League matches in Bhubaneswa­r, and India haven’t played at home since then.

Fulton is fully aware of the pressure of expectatio­ns. “Things have been moving pretty fast since I joined the team. After just two weeks of training, we went straight to the Pro League in the UK and The Netherland­s. This experience helped us tremendous­ly in terms of assessing ourselves. Now, the collective desire is to excel and uphold national pride. We are working towards achieving that goal despite the weight of expectatio­ns. A little patience may be required,” said the 48year-old who earned 195 caps over a span of 10 years for South Africa.

The Indian support staff has another South African, Paddy Upton, a mental conditioni­ng expert who was part of the Indian cricket team’s triumphant 2011 ODI World Cup journey. Fulton said Paddy gives the “mental edge” to the team . “He brings in a wealth of experience from his years of work in India. He had tremendous success with the Indian cricket team, understand­ing the culture, diversity, and how things work in the country. Moreover, he brings the kind of leadership we are aiming to instill. At the highest level of sports, it all comes down to mental decisions made in crucial moments,” he added.

Team India arrived in Chennai in the wee hours of Tuesday and are scheduled to train at the refurbishe­d Mayor Radhakrish­nan Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Fulton praised India’s performanc­e in the recently concluded four-nation tournament in Spain. “We faced some good opponents in the past 10 days and performed well against them. We have started playing the way we like to play. Also, we made some tactical changes in our game in our recent matches, and now we will aim to implement those in the ACT.”

India’s campaign in the six-team tournament will begin against China on Thursday. “We will use this tournament as a platform to prepare for the upcoming Asian Games. It’s important to prepare well by playing against quality opponents, and I believe this tournament provides an ideal scenario,” he said.

Chennai has laid out a brand new astroturf, Poligras Paris GT zero, which will also be used in Paris for the 2024 Olympics. “We will assess the conditions during our first training session. If the turf is playing a bit slower, it will be a big challenge as we prefer to play on faster surfaces,” added Fulton.

 ?? ?? Craig Fulton
Craig Fulton

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