1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?
I work for PWC and on week days - as well as the weekend - I’m usually awake early. I am not one to lie in bed. First thing on the list is always breakfast - and then a cup of coffee.
2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...
Breakfast? This could be cereal or porridge, followed by coffee and a banana.
Lunch? Lunch depends... usually, a sandwich or toastie and then a yoghurt.
Evening meal? For my evening meal, I like to try different things - but you really can’t beat a good steak dinner.
3. Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?
Yes, I think nutrition is very important in everyday diet. With regard to supplements, I take fish oil, probiotics and multivitamin tablets every morning.
4. Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?
No, I have never been on a diet. Playing hockey at a high level has always helped keep me in shape, so I never had to think of diets, really.
5. Weekend treat?
At the weekend, a treat for me would be some sort of pizza – along with a nice, refreshing beer.
6. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?
I think playing hockey keeps you fit in both capacities - it’s not just a physical sport, it requires a lot of thinking too.
7. Best tip for everyday fitness?
Just do it - don’t keep putting off doing something until the next day, otherwise, the chances are you probably won’t do it at all.
8. Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?
I loved school sports and PE. I chose my secondary school because it was a successful hockey school.
I would have said that before a scan in 2019 showed a brain tumour the size of three golf balls in my midbrain, that hockey was the biggest priority in my life... My family and friends come first now— Matthew Bell
9. Teetotal or tipple?
As already mentioned, I enjoy an occasional beer at the weekend or a cider after a match. I also like a glass of white wine every so often. I wouldn’t really have any alcohol during the week; I try and limit myself to the weekends.
10. Stairs or lift?
I prefer using the lift now, as my balance was badly affected from my surgeries, so the stairs take me a bit longer now. After emergency surgery for a tumour in my midbrain, I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again from scratch, so having to take the lift is a small price to pay.
11. What book are you currently reading?
Dan Carter: The Autobiography of an All Blacks Legend. It is interesting to read how he coped with pain and doubt during a prolonged period of injury and rehab following the 2011 World Cup.
12. Best Netflix or streaming TV?
I like to watch any true crime documentary.
13. Any new skills or hobbies?
Since purchasing a house with my fiancee, DIY projects have become a new hobby...
14. How do you relax?
I relax best just by lying up on the sofa, watching TV.
15. What would you tell your younger self?
‘Always put the hard work in, nothing in life is a given’
16. What are your goals going forward?
I’m starting to coach hockey a lot more now, so I would like to progress in that venture as much as possible. I am also looking forward to getting married in 2024 - that is going to be the highlight of the year.
17. What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?
Usually, I am in bed and asleep by 10.30pm. Sleep is recovery time.
18. Biggest gripe or regret?
I try not to have regrets; anything that goes wrong is a learning opportunity. Now, after all my surgeries, I just want to look forward.
19. Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?
Yes, definitely. After falling ill, I quickly realised just how important friends, family and relationships are. I would have said that before a scan in 2019 showed a brain tumour the size of three golf balls in my midbrain, that hockey was the biggest priority in my life. I was 26 years old, had just received my 100th cap for Ireland and was starting my third season as a professional hockey player in Germany for Crefelder Hockey and Tennis Club, when I needed emergency seven-hour surgery. It was a huge shock and brought about a sudden change of priorities and perspectives. My family and friends come first now.
20. Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event - changed your attitude towards your own mortality?
Yes, of course. Being a day away from not being here made me appreciate a lot more in life. My illness made me realise that your health really is your wealth and should never be taken for granted. As well as my own determination to recover, I relied heavily on the support given from family and friends to overcome all the physical and psychological hurdles I faced.