The SPAR Proteas were given a timely reminder of the millions they will be representing as they step onto court for their first game of the Netball World Cup 2023 this Friday in Cape Town.
Speaking at a flag handover ceremony at the Southern Sun Waterfront hotel in Cape Town, South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, said: “It is a special occasion for us as a country that we are gathered here once more to send warriors to represent South Africa. In yourselves you carry the aspirations and hopes of many South Africans.
“When we hand over a flag to you, to the national team, you know that you represent the aspirations and hopes of the nation.
“Therefore as you enter the netball court, you should know that not only do you represent yourselves, you represent millions of young girls who are sitting somewhere.
“You are an inspiration to them… You are the warriors participating in the event that for the first time is being held on African soil. You are that team that will be in the history records.”
Kodwa confirmed that South Africa’s Deputy President, Paul Mashatile, will be part of the tournament’s opening ceremony on Friday while President Cyril Ramaphosa will hand over the trophy when the winners are crowned on the 6th of August.
“We have to be excited as a country. This is one opportunity that all continents and countries desire and wish for… this is history in the making,” said Kodwa.
Also in attendance was South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, who said: “As national government and the department, we are really very proud to have been given this opportunity to host this tournament, but also to be able to give the girl child and the young women of South Africa an opportunity to be able to look up to this team and actually dream and be able to say it is possible.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter where you are born. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everything that you dream about is possible.
“Sport is not just about playing on the field. It is about making sure that we, together as a nation, come together and build a better country. We prepare a better future for those young ones that are coming. This team here has made that possible… I couldn’t be any prouder.”
President of Netball South Africa Cecilia Molokwane assured the country that everything is in place to hold a successful tournament at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and that every effort has been made to prepare the SPAR Proteas team for the challenge ahead.
“We have always believed in the girls, we have always believed in the team management, we have always rallied behind them, we’ve always made sure that whatever they need, through our sponsors, we give them what they need to prepare them well,” she said.
“I know that this team is not going to disappoint the country. The girls have worked hard behind the scenes.”
Captain of the SPAR Proteas Bongi Msomi thanked the Minister of Sport, his deputy and his department, Netball South Africa and the nation for their support of the team. Her side will begin their Netball World Cup campaign against Wales on Friday.
“I have realised that we are embarking on a beautiful journey that a lot of girls and boys out there will probably never have and we have this chance to not only step out and represent ourselves, but actually the country at large,” said Msomi.
“This is not about us only but something way bigger than us.”
Msomi also wished the South African women’s football team well as they continue their campaign at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I would like to say all the best to Banyana Banyana. We know the work they’ve put in behind the scenes and to be sitting here as well, it’s actually more or less the same feeling. This year has been great for women in sport.
“I’m a very big fan of emphasising that we are good enough. If no one had noticed that, I think at this point they should probably notice it.
“I know that the excitement for me here is the unknown. We’re sitting here and no one knows what’s going to happen. To be part of that, and to be part of that at home [in South Africa] is just exciting so I’m looking forward to game one because that’s going to set the tone and get the hype going.”
The Netball World Cup 2023 takes place from 28 July to 6 August at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Details on tickets and travel packages and more information on the tournament are all available on the official website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still on offer.