Thursday, 27 July 2023: The stage is set and it’s finally go-time as Africa’s first ever Netball World Cup gets under way in Cape Town on Friday.
The 16 competing teams arrived in South Africa’s “Mother City” over the past few weeks, ready for 10 days of incredible netball action.
Speaking on the eve of the Netball World Cup 2023, Tournament Director Priscilla Masisi said all preparations have been completed and the venue is good to go.
“It’s been a long journey but finally we are here… we are ready to go, the place looks beautiful, thinking that we started with an empty venue that didn’t have anything and we had to build it up from scratch, putting in the seats, the lighting, the rigging and also ensuring that everything is up to standard,” she said.
Masisi added that a team of 300 volunteers have been recruited from across South Africa and abroad to help with the smooth running of the tournament.
The traditional captains’ candle-lighting ceremony took place on Wednesday night with a players dinner scheduled for Thursday night, ahead of the first matches on Friday morning. The official opening ceremony will follow at 4pm on Friday.
Prior to the opening ceremony, the South African National Defence Force will conduct a spectacular fly-by above the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where the tournament is being held.
Netball World Cup 2023 Board Chairperson Patience Shikwambana added her excitement that the event had finally arrived, saying: “From our side as a board we are actually happy that we’ve come to this point.
“It was not easy… I don’t want to say it was smooth sailing. There were issues and challenges that we had to deal with… but as a board, all that we can say to you is that as we do our opening ceremony tomorrow, you will see that we host a very successful event here in South Africa.
“We have always said this event must leave a legacy. It is a legacy where there must be more netball courts in the entire country. There must be a legacy in terms of inspiring our girls.”
Also in attendance at the final press briefing ahead of the tournament was South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa.
“I was happy to receive a very positive report from all stakeholders that are strategically working towards a very successful tournament,” he said.
“I must indicate that for us, hosting an event of this magnitude is to relive the dream of [former president] Nelson Mandela which defines sport as a catalyst and a tool for building a nation.
“Therefore for us, it’s not about what happens on the field but also the ability of sport to mobilise and organise people and bring us together.
“It is indeed an historic event – its 60th anniversary coinciding with the fact that it’s coming for the first time on African soil,” added Kodwa.
The Netball World Cup 2023 gets under way with the defending champions New Zealand taking on Trinidad and Tobago at 9am on Friday while Tonga face off with Fiji at the same time.
That will be followed by a showdown between 11-time champions Australia and Zimbabwe at 11am while the She Cranes of Uganda take on Singapore at the same time.
The opening ceremony will kick off the evening session before hosts South Africa begin their campaign against Wales at 6pm and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls take on Sri Lanka.
The final matches of the day will see England up against Barbados and Malawi versus Scotland. Both those matches begin at 8pm.
The Netball World Cup 2023 takes place from 28th July to 6th 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.