“On a goalball court, that’s where you are not blind,” Ahmad Zeividavi explained.
“I can navigate, I can do things that I can’t do anywhere else.”
Zeividavi, a member of the BC1 team, was sitting on the sidelines at the Timms community centre in Langley City, waiting for the Saturday round of play in the 2017 International Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam.
Goalball is a team sport for blind athletes, who compete in teams of three using a ball that has bells embedded in it.
Teams alternate throwing or rolling the ball, using the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement.
The 1.25 kilogram (2.8 lbs.) ball has been clocked as fast as 60 km/h at elite-level play.
Eyes are covered so partially sighted players compete on an equal footing with blind competitors. The lines of the court use tape over lengths of twine for players to track by touch.
There are more officials than players on the court, with two referees and four goal judges.
This was the first year the international event was held in Langley.
The competition was being hosted by the Vancouver Goalball Club, which was offering a $5,000 grand prize for the winning team in each division.
As it turned out, the money went to the California Crown Team, after a hard-fought gold-medal match Saturday afternoon against BC1 that ended with an 8-7 win for the Americans.
The win was all the more frustrating because BC1 failed to capitalize on two penalty opportunities and an opportunity to tie the game with a minute left saw the ball hit the post instead of going in.
“When you don’t use your important moments, that’s what happens, Zeividavi said afterwards.
“The reality of the sport (is) when you play well you win, when you lose your chances, you lose.”
Zeividavi, who happened to be one of the tournament organizers, said the experience of playing in Langley City was a positive one, praising the staff at the Timms centre in particular.
“We’re hoping to have it here in Langley again (next year),” Zeividavi said.
“We feel this is home for our tournament. We had an awesome time here.”