Despite the sagging economy, global trade in sports balls appears to be full of bounce because of the Beijing Olympic Games and the lingering influence of a popular Hollywood film, according to Alibaba.com. The Hangzhou-based company, the world's leading provider of business-to-business e-commerce services, found search requests on its online international marketplace have increased for mass purchases of footballs, basketballs, shuttlecocks, volleyballs and dodgeballs since the second half of last year. 'The common thread between soccer, basketball, badminton and volleyball is that all four sports were featured prominently during the Olympics,' said Sabrina Peng, the vice-president of website operations at Hong Kong-listed Alibaba.com. 'These sports had strong competitors from around the world in contention for medals, and searches for all four surged after the Olympics from September to December.' Alibaba.com did not provide transaction figures but said the number of search inquiries made through its website last month indicated that interest in buying footballs, basketballs, shuttlecocks and volleyballs was up 76.7 per cent, 6.4 per cent, 132.8 per cent and 17.2 per cent, respectively, from a year earlier. 'The implication is that many companies around the world may have ordered more of these items for the recent holiday season to meet the growing appetite,' Ms Peng said. According to a report from Global Sources, sports ball exports from the mainland continue to rise, as more domestic manufacturers have improved the quality of their products. The United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union are the top destinations for Chinese-made sports balls, which total more than one billion units shipped each year. Data from Alibaba.com also showed search inquiries for dodgeballs increased 1,850 per cent year on year last month. The balls are used in a team sport played in the US and Canada. 'The dodgeball phenomenon is almost certainly linked to the growing cult status enjoyed by the 2004 movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,' Ms Peng said.