"It gives us 18 games that you are looking in the build-up to Paris” - India coach Craig Fulton highlights the importance of FIH Hockey Pro League

Craig Fulton (Image Credits: Olympics.com)
Craig Fulton (Image Credits: Olympics.com)

The Indian men's hockey team is currently taking part in the ongoing FIH Pro League. Chief coach Craig Fulton has emphasized the importance of the Pro League matches, which are crucial to the team's Paris Olympics preparations ahead of the marquee event in July-August.

India have played four Pro League matches so far. They emerged victorious in three games, facing defeat against the mighty Australian team.

“It (Pro League) gives us 18 games that you are looking in the build-up to Paris. So it is important. Whether some teams are putting their strongest teams or not is out of our control,” Fulton said while speaking during a virtual press conference.
“Everything we are looking forward to is to have more perspective about our game, develop our game with the squad we have," he added.

Stating that this league is the only competition that India can use for preparation ahead of the Paris Olympics, Fulton further said:

“We know we can compete in all the games, in different phases we have to different things and do them better. So the Pro League is really important for now because this is the only competition we have.”

Harmanpreet Singh, India's captain, also seconded his coach's statements.

“These are the major matches we are getting before the Olympics and they are very important for us. We started on a good note but as the coach said from the Australia game we have learnt a lot,” he said.

Harmanpreet, similar to coach Fulton, acknowledged the fact that these games would help India heading into the Olympics.

“We will definitely get a lot of advantage by playing these matches. Before the Olympics these are the games we are getting and we had made a good start as well and these matches will definitely help us in Olympics," he added.

India registered a hard-fought Pro League win against Ireland

India were given a tough time by Ireland in their previous Pro League outing. However, they managed to pull off a narrow 1-0 win in the last quarter.

Reflecting on the game, India captain Harmanpreet stated:

“We played them (Ireland) after a long time, it was a totally different game. We have learnt a lot from that match. Ball possession was mostly with us but they defended quite deep and we need to work on how to manage that before the next match."

Ahead of their next clash against the Netherlands, coach Fulton stressed on the need to have consistency in performance.

“Obviously the Australia game was big learning curve for us. We just need to put up a bit more consistent and composure in what we do. The start was good and the finish was was good but the competition is strong.
“India have a DNA of attacking hockey, of possession and the Irish have a defensive mindset. Every country has different way of playing because of culture cultural or philosophy. That’s the beauty of playing international sport,” said Fulton.

India are scheduled to face the Netherlands on February 21 in their next FIH Pro League fixture.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee