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The Soccer-Inspired Sport Drawing Beckham, Messi and Neymar

Teqball, growing in popularity in the US, is making a play for the Olympics.

Athletes compete at the USA Teqball tournament in Anaheim, California, in October.

Athletes compete at the USA Teqball tournament in Anaheim, California, in October.

Photographer: Maggie Shannon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Carolyn Greco and Margaret Osmundson are professional athletes who together placed third in the world at a recent competition staged in Anaheim, California, that was streamed globally on ESPN3. Yet many Americans have never heard of their sport: teqball. The two former professional soccer players and a handful of entrepreneurs are trying to change that, one kick at a time.

The Hungarian-born fusion of soccer, pingpong and tennis has been around for about a decade. It’s played on a curved tabletop that is 9.8 feet long and 5.6 feet wide—with the highest point reaching 2.5 feet high—that’s bisected by a solid net. The game is typically played in three-set bouts, and doubles competitions are generally more popular than singles. Players use a slightly underinflated soccer ball. As in soccer, they may hit it with any part of the body but their hands, resulting in movements that somewhat resemble martial arts: Spiral kicks and the fanciest of soccer’s footwork abound. Officials are making a play for teqball to be included in forthcoming Olympic Games, a process that takes years of arduous campaigning even when it goes well.