Somewhere between the rocketing shots, diving saves, and lightning reflexes, we forgot all the players of Goalball are either blind or blindfolded. We then realized that we’d never be as badass as the insanely talented, hyperaware athletes featured in the video above.
Goalball is a bit like a cross between dodgeball and soccer — where all the players are blindfolded. There are physical markers on the court, and the ball (which is slightly heavier than a standard dodgeball) has bells inside of it so players can track it all by sound. (You can check the full rules here.) Sound hard? We think so. Goalball also has a really cool backstory to go along with its badass modern form.
Originally developed as a way to help rehabilitate visually impaired soldiers after World War II, Goalball was a way to help the troops stay active and enjoy competition while also training them to use — and hone — their remaining senses. Goalball gradually became recognized as a Paralympic sport, joining the official competition roster during the 1980 Summer Paralympics in Arnhem, Netherlands.
The game has a surprisingly broad appeal compared to other Paralympic sports. Because Goalball only mandates visual impairment, sighted players can participate by wearing blindfolds.