Resistance is futile in the rise of Teqball.
The sport is charging towards its goal of being included in the 2028 Olympics, and the competition is heating up as athletes start taking their Teq game to the next level.
In December, the top Teqballers from all over the world traveled to Gliwice, Poland for the Teqball World Championships. Men and women had to qualify in specific categories in their home countries in order to compete in the tournament.
To spectators, Teqball looks like an odd combination of football and table tennis, with up to four players surrounding a curved table, volleying and heading the ball back and forth.
This year’s World Championships was a chance for a handful of athletes to defend their titles from the 2019 edition. For others, the cancellation of last year’s tournament amid the pandemic provided an extra year to train and set their sights on bringing home their country’s first ever Teqball title.
Throughout the four-day tournament, which took place between December 8 and 11, energy in the arena was pumping as athletes literally left their blood, sweat and tears on the court in front of crowds of up to 1,500 people, according to Teqball’s official website FITEQ.
READ: Meet BellaTeq, the first all-female Teqball team hoping to signal a ‘new era’ for the sport
The Teq effect
Curiosity draws people to stop and watch a match of Teqball at a table, but for those with a competitive spirit, the sport offers an irresistible challenge to jump in and play.
Those who do quickly find that, once you start, it’s hard to tear yourself away.
Participants don’t need to have prior athletic experience to play Teqball, but to reach a competitive level, each touch and attack requires precision and planning.
The complexity of the rules demands a combination of skill and strategy to be successful, and seasoned players spend hours on the table every day to perfect and finesse their serves, smashes and returns.
Women in Teq
This year saw the exciting launching of the women’s singles and doubles competitions, in addition to the men’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles competitions, bringing the total number of categories to five.
Out of 32 countries battling for the top five spots, only three claimed the gold: Hungary, Brazil and Serbia.
Hungary’s Anna Izsak became the first person to win the women’s singles event, defeating Poland’s Paulina Lezak to claim the gold. The match ended almost before it really began, with Izsak storming past Lezak in a comfortable, straight-sets victory.
All eyes were on the highly anticipated women’s doubles final as the US faced Brazil for a chance to make tournament history. USA’s Carolyn Greco defeated returning Brazilian champion Natalia Guitler for the third place spot in the singles competition the day prior, but Brazil had vengeance on its mind as Guitler and her partner Rafaella Fontes defeated Greco and Margaret Osmundson in three heated sets for the gold.
Guitler said the win was a dream come true for herself and Fontes, adding that they worked hard all year to prepare, despite conditions being tough in Brazil due to a lack of Teqball structure.
READ: Ronaldinho explains his love for Teqball
Guitler is the former mixed doubles world champion and the most recognized female in Teqball to date. Fontes proved to be an extremely formidable partner, as the 19-year-old has won numerous Teqball titles in Brazil and is known for her success in the Brazilian sport of footvolley.
Osmundson said the American duo was hoping for better results: “We do realize it’s our first competition, so we’re grateful for the experience of being able to represent our country and ultimately come away with some hardware, but we’re always going to be chasing more for next year.”
Osmundson and Greco founded the world’s first all-female Teqball club in Los Angeles called BellaTeq. They said they are going straight back to work once they get home, and Greco said their focus will be on continuing to pave the way for female Teqball athletes all over the world.
Teqball is relatively new – only seven years old – but the sport has seen tremendous growth across the globe, according to USA National Teqball Federation president Ajay Nwosu, who said there are thousands of athletes now playing in 118 countries.
The sport originated in Budapest, Hungary, and the founding country came out on top with three gold medals in the men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles events at the World Championships.
Ádám Blázsovics became a three-time Teqball world champion, with Izsak claiming the first gold medal in women’s singles. Csaba Bányik and Zsanett Janicsek took the gold in the mixed doubles by defeating Brazil’s Leonardo Lindoso and Vania Moraes Da Cruz in a close match.
Serbia took first place in the men’s doubles with 2018 champions Bogdan Marjevic and Nikola Mitro beating Romania’s Apor Gyorgydeak and Szabolcs Ilyes.
Despite being some of the newest faces in the tournament, the US got on the podium twice in the women’s events.
Nwosu said he’s happy and proud of the US team for how well they represented themselves this year, “We’ve grown a lot in the space of only two years since adopting this sport in the USA. Next year certainly, we hope to be back on the podium with a few more gold medals.”
Vision for the future of Teqball
Teqball’s federation calls itself the world’s fastest growing sport, according to their FITEQ website. Co-founder and Chairman Viktor Huszár is quoted on the website saying Teqball is a “green tick” when it comes to the International Olympic Committee’s indicators for introducing new sports to the Olympic program.
The federation is aiming to get Teqball into the Olympics by the time the Games are hosted in Los Angeles in 2028. The growth seen in California and across the United States in the past two years is a positive sign the sport is heading in the right direction.
FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are among many European clubs that have Teq tables. Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé, Roberto Carlos and John Terry are among the current and former players who have their own customized tables.
FC Bayern Munich hosted a competition between some of the club’s players, while David Beckham played a match against his son, Romeo, on an Inter Miami CF Teq table.
“You don’t need many players, it’s not an expensive sport. All you need is the table. You can put it in the park, the beach, and it works,” Huszár said.