Ajay Nwosu had a moment of clarity last weekend as he sat on the couch watching skateboarding at the Tokyo Olympics.
Something about non-traditional Olympic sport resonated with him. He watched it for hours. Then it hit him.
“I frankly thought it could be teqball in a few years,” said Nwosu, CEO of the US National Teqball Federation.
Teqball, a newly invented game that mixes table tennis and football, is a sport of Olympic hope for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. It has grown to reach 114 countries and hosts weekly tournaments around the world.
This weekend, San Diego will get a taste of the sport by hosting a World Tournament qualifier on July 31 in Chula Vista.
“It will be good to be in San Diego for our third tournament,” said Nwosu. “This is another step in the growth of the game. This week we will have tournaments in San Diego, Italy and Kuwait.
Essentially, teqball is equivalent to a game of ping-pong played with a soccer ball. Instead of paddles, players kick, head or chest the soccer ball across the table without hitting the net. The table, called the teq table, is slightly tilted to make it optimal for a larger bale.
It all started in 2014, in Hungary, with a group of three engineers who designed a teq table. Since then, it gained popularity when many European professional football clubs ordered a teq table for their players to use during their downtime. Lionel Messi, the star of FC Barcelona, has started playing. Then Neymar and David Beckham got it back.
“It really took off in Europe,” Nwosu said. “We started aiming for the Olympics after that. ”
At present, teqball has met five of the seven requirements to apply as an Olympic sport. When Nwosu and the teqball leadership met with the International Olympic Committee, the most important thing the IOC insisted on was wide global participation and recognition of national federations. At present, teqball has over 4,000 active players and is recognized by 114 federations.
The sport has also recently had a boon in the process of growing the game to the Olympic level. The European Olympic Committee made teqball a medal-winning sport at the 2023 European Games. It is a precursor for the 2024 Paris Summer Games.
“I think we have a chance. And other (non-traditional) sports like skateboarding give us more hope. We just hope to keep growing and it starts in San Diego this weekend, ”Nwosu said.