Teqball aims for the LA Olympic Games in 2028
Teqball, which is basically football (soccer) on a curved ping pong table, could become an Olympic sport in LA in 2028. It's the fastest growing sport in the world, with now more than a billion fans on social media. While more popular on the West Coast of the U.S. right now, teqball has also found a home in New Jersey and New York. There's a tournament this weekend at the Warinanco Sports Complex in Roselle, New Jersey this weekend (July 23-24).
The President and CEO of Teqball USA and the President of the U.S. National Teqball Federation AJay Nwosu joined SportsJam with Doug Doyle along with the sport's top players (who all have had tremendous soccer careers) to talk about the popularity of the sport and why we could see it in the Olympics soon.
Nwosu is a former professional soccer player for Bristol Rovers FC in England (2 years). He's spent more then 12 years in sports marketing and joined Teqball USA in 2019 as President and CEO. Nwosu, an avid investor in the start-up world, currently resides in Los Angles where he is focused on the growth of Teqball.
"After I played Teqball the first time I was simply addicted. It's an addictive sport. It's gender-neutral, so it doesn't matter if you're a great soccer player, obviously is a by-product of soccer, whether you're a great soccer player or not, the sport still requires a good amount of stamina, focus, endurance, mental endurance and it's simply addictive and a fun game."
The rules of Teqball make it a fast-paced game that requires tremendous flexibility. Teqball can be played with balls used in football (soccer), with size five being official and recommended. The sport can be played by two players (singles game) or by four players (doubles game). A teqball match consists of best-of-three sets. Each set is played until a player/team reaches 12 points. Every player/team has two attempts to complete a successful service. The players/teams change service after each four points. It is forbidden to touch the ball with the same body part twice consecutively. Returning the ball with the same body part twice consecutively is not allowed. Every player/team is allowed to return the ball with a maximum of 3 touches by any body part, except for the hands and arms. In doubles, a team has a maximum of 3 touches, however, the teammates must pass the ball at least once to each other.
All three Teqball players on this edition of SportsJam will be competing this weekend in New Jersey.
Frankie Diaz, the #1 ranked player in the U.S. and the #3 ranked player in the world is exciting about the opportunity to play against those who are looking for a challenge. Diaz, who is also an actor and model, says his vast sports background has propelled his Teqball status.
"I've played soccer my whole life. I played in the NCAA and I played professionally in Mexico. I would say I've always been a very technical soccer player. On the field I was always the most technical player on the team so I think those skills transferred over to Teqball. The touch is very important, being aware at all times, super-focused so I think that's the reason. I also played baseball and basketball. All these sports kind of mesh into this Teqball."
Diaz has been able to master the "smash" in Teqball, critical to scoring points, much like spiking a ball in volleyball or slamming the ball past someone in table tennis. However in Teqball, you usually different parts of your body to carry out the smash, particularly kicks and headers.
"You try to get it first because it's pretty much a guaranteed point when you do a smash. You can be set up from your partner or you can set yourself up for a smash or you could do the drop shots. A lot of people play the small game, but I love doing smashes. It takes time to get them down, but all of us have it down and we you see a smash it's pretty special."
Nancy Avesyan is the co-founder of Bella Teq, the first all female Teqball club in the world, the mother of a new baby girl and works full-time as a professional Teqball player. Her experience also comes from soccer.
Avesyan is a current member of the Armenian Women's national team and has been able to juggle her Teqball training quite nicely.
"I'm happy to be a part of the Armenian National Women's team currently and I do Teqball full-time. Since I've started Teqball I've noticed that my touch has been tremendously improved, so it translates into the big field as well. I've been playing soccer and the full field, but throughout pregnancy you can't do that. The one thing that's so special about being involved in Teqball is that I was actually almost able to play Teqball throughout my entire pregnancy. Because it's non contact, I was able to play and stay in shape. My range of motion might not have been the same, but it was nice to be on the table and get my touches in and still be active in that way. That was definitely a blessing. Then I quickly came back and just got right into the Challenger Cups. You know being physically ready for the a Teqball Cup versus having to run seven or eight miles in a game is very different, but luckily enough I was able to get back into really quickly."
Aveysan also enjoys both singles and doubles play.
Carolyn Greco, an environmentalist, is another co-founder of Bella Teq and the is the #10 ranked player in the world.
"Because it's a non-contact sport, I think that it is more skill-dependent than it is power or height. That's what I loved about the sport. I liked that I can compete alongside or against men, and not just men, people of all ages can play this sport. People of all ethnicities play this sport. We're in LA, it's mainly where we are located and playing Teqball. We're a melting pot here and seeing people coming together over the sport and community that's developed is something that I really appreciate about the sport as well because there's a huge football (soccer) culture here in LA and to be a part of it, really at the grassroots level, is something special."
Why did Greco and Aveysan feel the need to start the all-female club Bella Teq? Greco, who was dubbed by her colleagues as "super competitive", says early on they noticed that Teqball was being dominated by men. She says a handful of the women who were playing were all great friends and decided we can do better.
"Low and behold, we've landed on the podium at countless tournaments in the last year and a half. I'm really proud of our club and what we've built. Seeing the women's side grow is something I really appreciate about Teqball. Ajay has been very supportive of us and growing Bella Teq, that is our individual part of being in Teqball and making ourself different. In a way, Nancy and myself, we feel like we are pioneers of the sport, particularly for women. Soccer culture in the U.S. is obviously huge for women."
Ajay Nwosu sees a very bright future for Teqball.
"The reach is once we become indoctrinated as an Olympic sport, we'll have in terms of sponsors, not only media attention and TV and we're already getting some of that today. That's going to accelerate in many different ways because right now in Teqball, the goal is to control our own narrative as we move closer to the Olympics. Once we achieve that goal, then we can sort of focus on the other part of it, which is what does that look like from a sponsorship standpoint, from a sales standpoint and a TV revenue standpoint as well. I think, first of all, we have to hit the targets we set sights on and after that we can sort of look in the other direction, the economics."
Teqball's fandom on social media is huge. Some of its biggest fans include big-time athletes and entertainers like soccer great David Beckham, singer Justin Bieber, singer Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and golfer Justin Rose.
Nwosu's says the sport has grown at the grassoots level as well.
"Certainly, Carol, Nancy and Frankie have done an amazing job as pioneers for the sport. One of the ways they've got people involved, and we have as an organization is through grassroots activations. So we set up a hyper-traffic location such as Santa Monica, Venice Beach and other certain locations across the U.S. where we have several activations with soccer clubs. We basically have people come by and try the sport out. Once you try the table it becomes addictive."
Greco stresses the accessibility to the sport of Teqball.
"We're rolling out tables across the U.S. and the opportunity in the sport is huge. 2028 is far away and you have time to train in the sport. There are very many people necessarily that are training every day like us but we are seeing on the east coast, on the west coast and we're seeing it spread and watching that happen is cool. It's only ten or 12 dollars to sign up for one of these tournaments and to play competitive soccer, I mean that's a lot of money. With that in mind, we've had people come out on public transportation with their spare change and come out and those people have got second place in these tournaments, or landed on the podium, so the level of opportunity is huge."
You can see the entire interview at https://fb.watch/6XRBFXWN_I/.