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Me and my health: Colin Coates discusses his lifestyle

By Helen Carson

The 30-year-old captain of Crusaders Football Club, which recently clinched the Irish League title, lives in east Belfast with girlfriend Claire and their three children Zach (10), Rowan (6) and Clara (2). He works for the UK Dodge Ball Association to develop the game at club level.

Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so what?

A: As a footballer, exercise is a big part of my life. I train with Crusaders two to three times a week, with a game on Saturday. I also train at the gym twice a week - more when the football season finishes - where I will work on weights to build up strength. Young players, in particular, do tend to train regularly in their own time outside of the club.

Q: What's been the worst illness you have had?

A: I haven't had any serious illnesses but have suffered a few injuries, including a broken collarbone, both my wrists and a torn ligament. Most of these injuries were sustained playing football or when I was a kid. The most painful was the broken collarbone - especially the first five days. It happened when we were playing Glentoran FC and I wasn't back on the pitch again for seven weeks.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I don't eat as well as I should, especially when it comes to fruit. I love eating vegetables, I do find it very difficult to eat fruit and I don't know why that is. While I have a pretty good diet generally, and I think you should be able to have the odd kebab, perhaps once a month or every other month - not three to four times a week. I don't have a sweet tooth and I can take or leave a biscuit; even if I have a bar of chocolate, one square is enough.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: My worst habit is skipping breakfast which harks back to getting up at the last minute and rushing out the door when I was at school. I won't eat anything until I get really hungry at about 11am. I don't eat first thing in the morning because I am genuinely not hungry.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - and if so how much?

A: I like a beer but not too many, and I certainly drink a lot less than I did when I was younger. At university I would go out drinking four times a week - or as much as I could afford to. Now I will have a drink with Claire on a Saturday night when we would have a bottle of wine, usually Sauvignon Blanc or any good red wine with a steak. I am not a big drinker now - I can't cope with the hangovers. I did drink a bit more than usual recently after we the Irish League, though.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: I take vitamin C as I don't eat much fruit. When I was younger and was in the gym all the time with my mates, I did take protein supplements but you don't need to if you are eating a balanced diet, or you are body building. There is a lot of hype around protein supplements, yet they are quite hard for your body to digest.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I work quite a lot as well as playing football at the weekends and Claire is a secondary school teacher so she is busy, too. We keep Sunday for the family when we take the children swimming and encourage them to get outside as much as possible.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I sleep very well - as soon as my head hits the pillow I will be dozing off within seconds. It would take a very loud noise to wake me up. I need to have eight hours sleep or else I will struggle. I definitely have to have a good sleep.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: As a footballer I worry about how long I can maintain my level of fitness and performance. Once a player hits 30 you know you are coming to the end of your career. If I can get another five years out of playing football I would be happy with that, but I know it is coming to the end. Generally ageing doesn't faze me.

Q: What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: Taking vitamin C and fruit juices, such as cranberry and grapefruit, always make me feel better.

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