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Matt Pelech: We want to give our time to say thanks to a community that we love being part of

 

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Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech

Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech

William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech

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 Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech, who has remained in Belfast after their season ended prematurely at the beginning of March.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Me and my wife, Natasha, are still here in Belfast and we're just trying to stay busy. We planned on staying here anyway, my wife is working on her British citizenship and I have school to finish, and this has put a halt to everything. Even if we were to go home we wouldn't be able to spend time with friends and family, so we've decided to ride it out here. We're obviously following all the guidelines to keep ourselves safe and the people around us as well.

Q: How has the virus affected you?

A: Our season ended early, which sucks for everyone - it sucks for us, for our fans. But looking at the way this is all going, it was the right decision made by the league. I'm a fan of other sports as well, so it's caused the postponement of the baseball season, which I look forward to every year. It's unfortunate but hopefully everyone's doing what they need to do so this can go quicker than all the guidelines suggest. I'm attending university here, so I do have a summer semester in May and June. I'm assuming that's going to be online given the situation but they haven't made that decision.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: Before the SSE Arena shut down I was able to get in there and borrow some weights and some kettle bells, stuff like that. I also borrowed a stationary bike from a guy I go to school with, so I have some things that I can get on with. I'm not doing full workouts because our season is over now. I was joking around with my wife that they almost feel like prison workouts at the moment!

Q: How are you keeping morale up?

A: Just trying to stay busy. I'm still in school, so I still have assignments and papers to write. Natasha and I are trying to get out and about and fill some hours by volunteering because there's a lot to be done. We signed up for a couple of opportunities and we're hoping to hear back soon. We applied for the NHS but they weren't able to take us, I think it had something to do with me not being a British citizen, and we've also signed up to be British Red Cross emergency volunteers. We really want to give our time to help others and give back to a community that we've loved being a part of for the last eight or nine months.

Q: Sports fans are staying at home - do you have any books, films or box sets to recommend?

A: I love the Marvel movies, I'm a nerd with things like that. I've been going through some of those. This morning I was craving sports so much that I went back and watched the Toronto Blue Jays' play-off game against the Texas Rangers from 2015 - I could really go for some live sports right about now! I watched a really cool movie a couple of days ago with Daniel Day-Lewis called The Boxer, which is set in Belfast during the Troubles. It was a really interesting thing to watch.

Q: What's the first thing you'll do once this is all over?

A: Natasha and I are going to walk into the city centre and just enjoy being able to do things again - go for coffee, go for lunch, have a drink somewhere, walk around. Just try to appreciate the fact that we're allowed out of our house and sit in a restaurant or at a bar and interact with other people. For us, it's nothing in particular, just embracing life being normal again. We were really excited to spend the summer in Belfast, we really enjoy living here and that aspect is on pause. But hopefully once this is all over and they release us from quarantine we can enjoy what's left of it.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Appreciate being able to live life normally, I guess. That's quite deep for me!

Q: Do you have a message for the fans?

A: Thanks for the support this year, it's a shame we didn't get to finish the season the way we wanted to and see how things played out. For me, and I know I speak for all of the guys as well, we had a blast playing at the SSE Arena and being a Giant was a great experience. Hopefully everyone is being safe!

Belfast Telegraph