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October 16, 2021
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NorCal Teqers have medals on the mind

  • Rainbow Park in Rohnert Park is getting some action with a game called Teqball, which is a cross between soccer and ping pong. Photo by Cliff Mills

By: Paul Matli
February 19, 2021

Rancho Cotate Varsity Soccer coach Nick Rogers’ journey to Teqball all started with a simple trip down to Los Angeles with his brother. They watched the World Championships of a little-known sport called Teqball. After watching that, Rogers’ brother said he should start a league in Northern California. That’s exactly what Rogers did, along with Kevin McKeon and others.

The group call themselves the NorCal Teqers and have been playing the sport for less than a year. In fact, Teqball is so new it’s only been in the United States since 2019, but because of the rules and how addicting it is, the popularity of the sport is rising fast.

Teqball combines elements of soccer, Ping Pong and volleyball. To be a successful Teqball player you have to be a high-level soccer player, as the purpose of the game is keeping the ball in the air while either getting it over the net yourself or passing it to your partner. Just like in Ping Pong, the ball has to go over the net, otherwise the other team wins a point.

“Most people call Teqball Soccer Ping Pong,” McKeon said. “You get three touches between you, yourself or teammate depending on if it’s singles or doubles.”

“In between those touches you actually have to alternate which body parts you use unless you give it to your teammate.”

Teqball sounds complicated, but once someone starts playing or watching, they figure out quickly what the game entails and how it’s played.

On average, the NorCal Teqers have about 20 players who rotate in and out, but the most frequent players, in addition to McKeon and Rogers, are Daniel Theobald and Andre Espinoza. The NorCal Teqers are growing quickly and have played in a number of tournaments in the short time they’ve been together.

Rogers believes Teqball is on its way to being an Olympic sport and is optimistic players from Sonoma County might be good enough to qualify.

 “Teqball is on its way towards being an Olympic sports,” Rogers said. “What’s so intriguing about Teqball is that it’s close to being a sport we could see in the Olympics and we could have teams locally go over and represent at the National Team level.”

The goal of the Teqers is to play at a high level and qualify for tournaments not only nationwide, but worldwide.

Teqball was started in 2012 in Hungary by a group of soccer enthusiasts and has since grown in popularity around Europe and other soccer prominent countries. Denmark and the Netherlands are two countries in particular where Teqball is really popular with both the club soccer players and street soccer players.

Brazil, where the NorCal Teqers might be going in the coming months, is another hotspot for the game. This makes sense for those who watched the 2012 World Cup, since soccer is the number one sport in Brazil and street soccer is just as popular as pickup basketball. Teqball has a high- level ambassador promoting it in Brazil in two-time player of the year and one of the greatest players of his generation: Ronaldinho.

One thing Rogers and McKeon touched on was how they think Teqball will grow because of Covid. Other sports like soccer, basketball and football aren’t really going to be played unless extreme precautions are taken. However, a sport like Teqball that’s socially distanced and can be played with masks is the ideal sport for club soccer players to try if they need something to do doing the pandemic.

 “We are street players at heart, who just love to compete,” McKeon said. “This is a sport I think can really drive during the pandemic. If it’s a purple tier sport that’d be very interesting because we could hopefully get it into the club system for high schools and get a bunch of soccer players who could be sitting at home back into touching the ball. If we can do that with Teqball, everybody’s lives would be a lot better.”

It’s true, Teqball is a socially distanced sport. The players are six feet away from each other, get to wear masks and don’t touch the ball with their hands that often. It’s a sport parents would feel safe about their children playing.

 “The game is no contact, socially distanced sport,” Rogers said. “It’s gaining popularity the same way Pickleball and tennis are.

 For those who follow soccer in the United States, they know it’s the women who are the dominate force. Because of this, Rogers and McKeon are making it a point to reach out to women soccer players. Teqball, unlike soccer, isn’t about physical ability; it’s about the mind and skill. Women players are just as skilled as men players, so there’s no reason they can’t compete at the same level men do in a sport like Teqball that doesn’t require much physical ability to be successful.

“Teqball had a women’s tournament in Miami and just the first ever women’s tournament in Los Angeles,” McKeon said. 

 “There’s a group called BellaTeq featuring Nancy Avesyan, Margaret Osmundson and Carolyn Greco who started the first ever all female team,” Rogers said. They are the ones really pushing for an all-women’s game here in America.

Greco and Osmundson are both Sonoma State graduates, so the Sonoma County connection with Teqball is strong.

 Rogers went on to say how they do have women they know from soccer come out and play with them on occasion, so it certainly seems like the NorCal Teqers will be a co-ed powerhouse in no time.

 It’s clear what the goals of the NorCal Teqers are and with the right motivation, tactics and players, the community could easily see a local team competing in the Olympics or World Championships.