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Goalball gains momentum in Maine

9:47 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Visually impaired athletes have been playing this sport for decades, competing nationally and internationally at the Paralympic Games.

It's called Goalball and requires sensory skills other than sight.

Randy Bellavance is rolling the ball to the other side, hoping the opponent doesn't catch it.

"It's a challenge and it's really a question of skill and speed. You've got to be able to be fast and know where it's going... And be able to react to it in a timely manner. If not, you are going to miss it.

Bellavance started playing Goalball in high school with others who are visually impaired. He says it was a popular game that his wife Sarah Bellavance played too.

"I love that it is a sport that doesn't require vision. So when the ball is going toward the defending team, they have to rely solely on their listening skills."

Players wear masks blocking their sight, and roll a rubber ball filled with bells.

"Does it hurt when the ball hits you? 'That's a loaded question. It depends on where.'"

Bruce and Annemarie Albiston say that for a month and half they've been watching the Mystix play, but this is their first time getting in on the game. 

"This is a little bit more difficult than what I've done before. I've skied with blind goggles on before but never played any games with it so it's hard picking up the sound and the speed of the ball."

"It kind of makes me want to play every week with them now."

This exhibition game is for a challenge. The Mystix are raising money to compete nationally through the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes.

"Mostly so we can say we can and prove that we can do it. We can take a grassroots organization and bring it to a national level. There's something to be said for that achievement."

The Mystix hope to raise $2,000 by next March to cover equipment and travelling costs to compete nationally.

The fund for the Southern Maine Goalball Association is set up through the United States Association of Blind Athletes.


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