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Teqball -- where ping-pong meets soccer -- debuts at UND's Wellness Center

The sport can be played in an either singles or doubles format, and league play also has mixed-doubles competition. There are no hands involved in the game. Players kick, knee or headbut a Teqball back and forth across the table. There is no net, but instead a plastic divider, about the height of a ping-pong net. Players have three tries to get the ball across, and rotate their positions in the manner that volleyball players do, when playing in doubles.

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Miguel Martinez-Viera serves the ball during a Teqball match Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the UND Wellness Center. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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It's ping-pong meets soccer for the latest sport to hit UND’s student Wellness Center, and it’s growing in popularity in the United States and has the backing of some famous athletes.

That sport is Teqball, and it was unveiled at the Wellness Center earlier this month. A mix of about a dozen UND students, grad students and staff were on hand for the debut of the sport. A pair of Teqball USA instructors -- yes, there’s an association for the sport -- drove up from Chicago to drop off a donated Teq table, a curved ping-pong-like table, and teach people how to play.

“It's played in every country in the world now,” said Miguel Martinez-Veira, one of the instructors who is also a “Teqer,” a Teqball player. “The U.S. is kind of the last one to get it, but it's going to be in the Olympics starting in 2028.”

The sport can be played in an either singles or doubles format, and league play also has mixed-doubles competition. There are no hands involved in the game. Players kick, knee or headbutt a Teqball back and forth across the table. There is no net, but instead a plastic divider, about the height of a ping-pong net. Players have three tries to get the ball across, and rotate their positions in the manner that volleyball players do, when playing in doubles.

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International soccer stars Messi, Neymar, Ronaldinho and David Beckham, are fans of Teqball, the instructors said.

UND freshman Liam Ghahreman and Javier Lenzi, a researcher at the school, were kicking the teqball back and forth across the table on launch night, with the occasional call of “my bad!” With the help of the instructors, their game quickly improved, though errant balls still sent them running.

“I like football -- soccer,” said Lenzi, quickly catching himself after using the European lingo for the sport, about why he wanted to try Teqball.

Ghahreman said he wanted to try it because it “looks like a lot of fun.”

Mike Wozniak, coordinator of campus recreation, said Teqball USA reached out to UND and offered to donate a table, as a way to grow the sport. Wozniak said he thought soccer players would like to give it a try.

“Our 'Pick Up and Play' program is all about growing sports,” Wozniak said.

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Liam Ghahreman, a UND freshman, checks out Teqball during an introductory event Thursday, Nov. 19, 2021 at the UND Wellness Center. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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The program highlights a new or non-traditional sport each month, and organizes students for pickup games.

There are official Teqball leagues in Europe, said Arthur Churchill, the other instructor who visited UND for the demonstration event. There are some city leagues and clubs in the U.S., and Teqball USA’s goal is to develop them into a more prominent league.

The sport has a world championship, and it’s set to be held in Poland in early December. U.S. qualifiers were held in September, which means Ghahreman and Lenzi, should they go pro, will have another year to hone their skills.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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