Article will continue after advertisement

By WSB-TV Community

LILBURN, Ga. – In preparation for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Matt Simpson is teaming up with players from Atlanta Braves to play goalball.

 Goalball is a team sport designated for blind athletes. Teams of three try to roll or throw a ball, with bells inside, into their opponents’ goal. Simpson, a 26-year-old Paralympic athlete, says the support from his father, Hal Simpson, is why he has a competitive outlet to play.
“Those opportunities didn’t exist for people like me and for kids that came out today and they’re just another generation,” Matt Simpson said. “My dad has been so driven to provide those opportunities to kids beyond just me. That speaks a lot to him and his passion.”
Hal Simpson founded the Georgia Blind Sports Association to bring the sport of goalball to the Greater Atlanta area. During a sports clinic earlier this week, players from the Atlanta Braves surprised Hal Simpson with a Community Hero award for his work with blind and visually impaired youth.

“I don’t really think of myself as a hero but I’m honored and I’m humbled and I’m thrilled,” Hal Simpson said.

Each player then put on a blindfold to learn beep baseball and goalball, including Parkview High School alumnus and outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, Jeff Francoeur.

“I love it because it really makes you go outside your comfort zone,” Francoeur said. “Putting something over your face for 30-45 seconds and then taking it off, you know it’s a scary thing for that time.” Francoeur said. “It’s what these guys live with every single day. So I applaud them for doing what they do.”

For more inspirational stories, LIKE WSB Community on Facebook

Matt Simpson said next month me will be headed to Rio to execute a dream that began 15 years ago, becoming a Paralympian on the U.S. Paralympic goalball team.

“Doesn’t matter if you’re blind, you’re in a wheelchair or if you’re Michael Phelps, it’s all the same journey,” Matt Simpson said.