Teqball is a training favorite for Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. It recently got a broadcasting contract from ESPN. But what the heck is it?
With MLB facing an extended work stoppage and the NFL on hiatus, sports fans everywhere are grasping for entertainment. If basketball, hockey or soccer isn’t your taste, you might consider looking beyond major sports. From pickleball to padel, the broadcasting world has expanded its coverage and made quirkier games more accessible.
Now there’s a new game bound to capture your attention.
From Neymar Jr. to Messi and Justin Bieber to David Beckham, everyone is a fan of Teqball. Earlier this year, ESPN signed a deal with the up-and-coming sport that has been generating interest across the globe.
But WTF is Teqball?
What is Teqball?
Teqball (pronounced, “tek-ball”) was born in Hungary in 2012 by three soccer enthusiasts — former professional player Gábor Borsányi, businessman György Gattyán, and computer scientist Viktor Huszár. The game draws from elements of soccer, tennis, and table tennis, but the experience is unique.
“The magic of Teqball is in the table and the rules,” President of the U.S. National Teqball Federation and CEO of Teqball U.S.A. Ajay Nwosu told Boardroom.
That magic has caught fire worldwide, as the game is now played in over 120 countries.
To play, you need a custom Teqball table, which looks similar to a standard ping pong table. The key difference is a curve that directs the ball toward each player. In place of the standard net, there is a plexiglass piece that straddles the middle of the table. The game is played with a standard-issue Size 5 soccer ball, making it easy to pick up so long as you have access to a table.
The setup is situated amidst a 16 x 12-meter court and is complemented by a service line, which sits two meters behind the table. Official competitions can take place indoors or outdoors.
And What About the Rules?
To play, participants serve the ball from behind a set line. Once over the net, it must bounce on the opponent’s side of the table to be considered in play.
When a legal serve lands, players have a maximum of three passes before returning the ball over the net to the other side. Passes can be distributed to yourself or a teammate, using any body part except for your hands and arms. In the doubles game, you must execute at least one pass before sending.
Teqball is mental and physical.
Players must hit calculated shots that win points while continuously keeping in mind which body parts you and your opponent(s) can use in any given rally. This requires on-the-fly thinking and reacting to get proper positioning for the next pass or shot.
The rules demand players to dynamically adjust to avoid a fault. For example, a player can’t bounce the ball on their chest twice before returning to their opponent, nor are they allowed to use their left knee to return the ball on consecutive attempts.
How Can You Watch?
ESPN is making it easier.
Teqball joins a long list of emerging sports that have found a home on the Worldwide Leader. From drone racing to chase tag, Street Fighter competitions or cornhole, ESPN is constantly in search of the next big thing in sports entertainment.
Teqball landed its first-ever U.S. programming deal with ESPN, as the network announced in January. Coverage includes six highlight shows: four on ESPN2 and two on ESPNU.
The news coincided with the launch of the USA Teqball tour around the country that will air on ESPN3 from now until December 2022.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with ESPN as our first national television partner. After a very successful 2021 year, where we saw tremendous growth of the Teqball community nationally and at marquee events held across 15 states, we decided to take the next milestone bringing the sport to the masses and there is no better sports audience than that of ESPN,” Nwosu said in an official release.
As reported by Forbes, the deal between Fédération Internationale de Teqball (FITEQ) and ESPN is for $850,000.
What’s Next for Teqball?
ESPN’s investment in the sport will further spur the growth of the game in 2022 and beyond — boosting previous exposure from universally beloved famous figures. This includes soccer superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr, who use the game to help improve their signature first touches.
Teqball’s official social media channels are evidence of its allure:
And things are only getting started.
“Teqball is the byproduct of soccer, so we already have the audience. There are two billion people in this world that love soccer,” Nwosu pointed out.
Over the last two years, Teqball gained a ton of new players as the ultimate “social distancing sport.”
As for the path forward, it contains three essential directions. Nwosu is looking to grow the game at the grassroots, collegiate, and professional levels. And as he looks to expand its take-up, he sees exciting opportunities at the “intersection of culture and lifestyle.”
The U.S. National Teqball Federation has partnerships with 18 MLS teams, including Inter Miami CF, FC Dallas, and the San Jose Earthquake. Players use the game as a training tool and the Federation sets up Teqball tables in the fan zones at home games.
In the near future, you can expect to see Teqball tables popping up in public locations across the United States, too.
Nwosu said that they will be rolling out the sport with the help of “Teq Trucks,” which are box trucks with Teqball tables in the back — driven by professional athletes who connect with the community and teach the basics of the game.
“I’d like everyone to have access to a Teqball table within 25 miles,” he said. “When I talk about accessibility, I think that would be the holy grail. … The same way you see a soccer field or a basketball court is the same way you’ll see a Teqball table across the U.S.”
And the ultimate goal? Making Teqball an olympic sport in the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
In the meantime, once you hone your skills, you can sign up for one of the televised tourneys and compete for a $30,000 prize.
Learn more about the sport and upcoming events by following USA Teqball on IG.