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Senegal gambles on teqball to absorb leftover soccer talent

Teqball players train at a beach in Dakar   -  
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Senegal

Teqball is still looking for a place in Senegal's crowded sports landscape, but it isn't short of admirers.

Combining elements of football and table tennis, the sport is fast attracting followers.

Mame Cheikh Fam is now the flag bearer of teqball, which only came to the west African country in 2019.

"For now, I am well in teqball because it has brought me many things. It is thanks to teqball that people know me. For now, I feel like a professional teqball player. Every day I dream of representing Senegal at the World Cup and why not continue my career there," said Cheikh, Senegal's reigning champion.

Cheikh already plays football and that increases his chances of succeeding as a teqballer.

But the rules of teqball are fundamentally different from those of soccer. It is played in singles or doubles with players placed on either side of a curved table.

No player is allowed to touch the ball more than three times. The ball must be sent to the other side of the table within three touches and not with the same part of the body.

But can this sport really shake up football? Its promoters say there is no doubt.

"It's a question that comes up a lot, but I tend to say yes, absolutely. You know, I have been involved in soccer for several years and I know that it is very difficult to break into this discipline because the demand is relatively much stronger than the supply, we will say," said Modou Gueye Seck, the vice-president of the Senegalese Teqball Federation.

"And today, these young people who can not break through in soccer have an opportunity to develop their potential in teqball," he said.

A folly, some would argue. Football is firmly entrenched in Senegal's culture. A lot of Dakar's soft power is built around the sport.

But that has not stopped teqball's promoters from hoping the discipline will find its footing in a country that does not play much else.

_Watch correspondent Wahany Johnson Sambou's report from Dakar in the player above _

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