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Ben Doherty: 'We are lucky that we can still get up every morning, work and see our family and friends'

 

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Coleraine midfielder Ben Doherty

Coleraine midfielder Ben Doherty

�INPHO/Brian Little

Coleraine midfielder Ben Doherty

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Coleraine midfielder Ben Doherty.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I'm doing OK, but it's been strange. I haven't played since January 27 because of a hamstring injury and the first week I came back everything was called off so I've been away from it for even longer than that. It's been hard, but it's benefited me in a way that I can get myself back up to speed if things were to resume. I'm not missing it as I probably would have if I was injured so it's been good and bad, but I'm just itching to get back at it now. It has benefited injured players who might have missed a lot of football, but I haven't missed a lot - not as much as I would have.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: I'm working from home and then you don't have that buzz of going to training on a Tuesday and Thursday night and building up to a match on Saturday. The first night of lockdown was my birthday and after that I didn't see my girlfriend for four weeks. When the weather was decent I met her and sat outside her house and that social aspect is good for you - you can't have a relationship over the phone, you need that human contact. Being able to see people is good for your mental health and being around people who make you happy.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: My dad, Eamon, who played for Derry City and Crusaders, is still a keen runner. At the start we were going on lots of runs, which was OK because we're in the same household, and then my brother joined us to do some football stuff. Since we've been allowed to meet up in groups of six, a few of the Coleraine players who live locally have been meeting up to do some training. It's good to get back with other players and get on a ball again. We're just anticipating a return and trying to keep sharp. You can do all the running you want, but match fitness and kicking a ball is the difference.

At the start I was going out running, trying to stay fit and strengthen the hamstring. I was doing up to 10km and I was comfortable. Then I was going out to do football sessions and doing sprints and I was wrecked after 30 seconds. It's a different type of fitness.

Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: There's no real goal for us at the minute and it's hard to keep motivated. Obviously the players and the staff haven't got to see each other, but we've had a few Zoom meetings, a few quizzes and it's all been good craic. We've just been trying to keep spirits up hoping that we'll have a return soon and if not we'll just get back to it when we can and kick on for next season. That's out of our hands at the minute and all we can do is prepare as if we are going back.

The Zoom meetings have been very beneficial for us and we've a group chat as well, so there's a bit of banter on that and we still keep in contact. I've been going running and now I've been playing a bit of golf too. Meeting up to do a bit of training has made things easier recently, but at the start it was definitely difficult. Now that we can get out on the golf course again, that's what I've been doing on Saturdays to replace football and I've been playing three or four times a week.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I get that from knowing that there are people out there who have a lot worse problems than we have. We're in the house for a few weeks, but there are people dying across the world and we can count ourselves lucky that we can get up every morning, still work and earn money and see our families and friends, play golf, go out running. There are people who are limited in all that so I don't get myself too down. I can see it as a bit of a blessing in disguise in that we can take a step back from the real world and look at things in a different way. I think it will change a lot of people's mentality and when everything is back we will appreciate things a lot more. Everyday life in what was the norm was definitely taken for granted and we thought it would last forever, but this has shown it's not like that. Even getting up on a Saturday to go and play football, you think that's going to be there every week and I think it was a shock to everyone that it could be taken away.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set stay at home fans might like?

A: I was watching Money Heist on Netflix and really enjoyed that. I have been re-watching Suits, which I enjoyed as well. A series always keeps me entertained for a while and I don't realise how long I've been watching them so I'll keep doing that until we can get back to normal.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Being more appreciative of things that we would take for granted, like being around family. We have six in our house, but all of us being at home at the same time would be a rarity - particularly as my brother and sister are both at university and my parents are working full-time. The six of us being at home is something I'll appreciate more.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when all this is over?

A: Getting back to training, but as a social aspect getting out with friends and going out to dinner with my girlfriend. Most people will want to get back to normality, but it will be a bit of a shock and I think everyone will be a bit edgy. People won't want to do much until they see others doing it.

Q: And your message for sports fans?

A: I'd say the same as we have all been saying in our group chat, that we're all hoping that the season can finish and we can get back to the Showgrounds and see as many fans there as possible whenever we do get back to the norm. I'll be looking forward to that.

Belfast Telegraph