Teqball tables are a common sight in the training grounds of many of the world’s best professional football clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Everton and FC Barcelona.
The game has been lauded by current and former legends of football as one of the keys to unlocking greater skill, coordination and spatial awareness which can be applied to the pitch to give players an edge over their opponents. But what is not as well known, is that Teqball is on the fast track to the Olympics as a sport in its own right.
In little over two years, Teqball has grown from a sport invented in a back garden and played sporadically throughout Central Europe, to being officially recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia and having its very own World Cup tournament attracting players from 42 different countries and enjoyed by more than 4,000 people across the globe.
If this is what’s possible in the space of just a few years, we wanted to explore where Teqball is heading in the next decade and beyond. Teqball’s co-founders Viktor Huszár, Gábor Borsányi and György Gattyán spoke to fcbusiness about the game and their hopes of taking it to the Olympics.
“Viktor and I met by chance when the newly built residential complex we’d both bought units in went bankrupt,” said Gábor. “We were the only tenants that fought the developers and ended up living in the 72-flat condominium by ourselves.
“We used to play football a lot in Ujpest and one day we started playing football tennis on an outdoor ping-pong table in amongst the prefab buildings. But the table design itself wasn’t ideal and so we came up with a solution – to bend the table.
Viktor, added: “I liked it immediately and knew the curve would mean the ball would always bounce towards the players. I remember we were sitting in my garden talking about it and got to work straight away, drawing sketches of what the table might look like.
“We’d designed the first experimental table around nine months later, using a ratchet strap to hold the ends of the table down. We began playing on it and knew we had something special.”
“The problem was, we are both around 195cm tall and at the beginning we didn’t realise, but the average height of most men around the world is about 20cm shorter. We had to shorten the table to make the game more accessible,” continued Gábor.
Viktor, added: “It wasn’t long before we had interest from investors and we could have sold the entire thing to a businessman in the Middle East early on. But we wanted to keep going and to nurture our creation.
“All we needed was a partner and that’s when we sat down with György Gattyán, with whom we had been working together to develop the Technical University of Budapest’s sports club.”
Picking up the story, György, said: “Together the three of us co-founded Teqball and incorporated the business entity. We recognised the benefits of Teqball as a training aid for football almost instantly and it remains true that those with a background in football take most naturally to Teqball.
“But we had greater ambitions for our new sport. We established the Fédération Internationale de Teqball (FITEQ), the sport’s governing body, in 2017 and just months later held the very first Teqball World Cup in Budapest with around 20 countries represented across the singles and doubles tournaments.”
“This was the start of our journey and just a year after FITEQ was established we received the seal of approval from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), declaring Teqball an official sport,” Viktor, added.
“This felt like the birth of Teqball, more so than any other moment on our quest so far and it gave us the credibility we needed to take the next step in the evolution of the sport.
“The OCA Sports Committee recommended that FITEQ be officially recognised by the General Assembly after watching a demonstration of Teqball, signalling ratification by 45 national Olympic committees including China, India and Pakistan. That sort of recognition can take 30 years or more, but we managed to do it in just under three.”
Gábor, stated: “We then got to work preparing for our second Teqball World Cup, this time in Reims, France and our goal was to go bigger and better than before. Teams from 42 countries were represented at the two-day tournament, double that of the previous year, and for the first time UK nations were among them.
“Global awareness of the sport was on the rise, with the likes of the BBC, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky, The Sun and the Daily Mail all covering the event. And what truly struck us, was the variety of athletes the tournament had attracted. Men and women of all ages and even players with disabilities, all competing against each other.
“One thing we set out to accomplish with the invention of Teqball was to create the world’s most inclusive sport, one in which neither gender had a particular advantage due to strength or size, allowing everybody to compete on a level playing field.
“Not even experience could give players an edge, because we’d only just invented the sport and everyone was coming into as a rookie. That’s a principle we’re extremely proud of and hope to maintain as the sport evolves.”
György, concluded: “In the coming years, we hope Olympic councils in other regions of the world recognise FITEQ, leading ultimately to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). I think 2032 is a real possibility for Teqball to debut at the Olympic Games, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“We’ll continue to host international tournaments and establish federations in more and more regions around the world until the Teqball footprint is such that it cannot be ignored.
“Football will remain an important partner to help us nurture and grow the sport and we’re grateful to have the support of clubs and players who genuinely endorse Teqball. But the future of Teqball is one where it can stand alone and draw competitors and spectators alike. One where we can all say, we witnessed the birth of an Olympic sport.”