Recent Catholic convert Matt Simpson inspires on and off the court.
On August 24 the Tokyo Paralympic Games will begin. Men and women from all over the world will be gathering to impress millions and show their sporting prowess. Among these sportsmen and women, some will be taking part with missing limbs, such as the swimmer Jessica Long, and others will be competing with disabilities, such as blindness.
One thing all these athletes have in common is they don’t let their disabilities stop them from achieving greatness. And, among this year’s competitor’s is a young athlete, Matt Simpson, who recently converted to Catholicism, along with his wife.
Simpson, who was born with severely impaired vision, will be taking part in his second Paralympics in a game designed specifically with the visually impaired in mind — goalball.
The game is a cross between dodgeball and handball that relies on hand-ear coordination. Initially it was devised to help WWII veterans in rehabilitation programs, but the exciting sport has proved popular ever since.
Players rely solely on the sound of the different bells within the nearly 3-pound ball to be able to judge where it is and either block it with their bodies or hit it into the opposing team’s goal. Considering the ball can go up to 50 miles an hour, the three-per-side teams have to keep their wits about them!
“When you realize just how hard that ball is and just how fast it’s going…it is an extremely physical sport. It’s a rough game, for sure,” Simpson explained in his interview with The Pillar.
Simpson, who is a law associate, is hoping to “challenge the assumptions” people make about those living with disabilities, according to a report in Reuters. But the 31-year-old also wants to use his position on the Olympic Team to highlight the importance of getting a good education.