The traditional candle-lighting ceremony to mark the start of the Netball World Cup 2023 took place with much jubilation and African flavour in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday, with just two days to go to the start of the event.
Since the inaugural tournament in Eastbourne, England, back in 1963, captains of each of the participating nations have taken part in the ceremony, which includes lighting a candle and pledging an oath to play in the spirit of true friendship and sportsmanship.
The Vitality Roses attended the celebration dressed to impress in red suits provided by Long Tall Sally with Geva Mentor lighting the candle on behalf of the England team in her final competition with the team before retiring internationally at the end of the World Cup.
A representative of the match officials also lights a candle, pledging to officiate with fairness and impartiality according to the rules of the game.
As time has gone on, the candle lighting ceremony has become a symbol for international netball, celebrating the worldwide impact of the sport – a light that represents the history and the camaraderie of netball.
President of World Netball Dame Liz Nicholl DBE addressed the 16 teams, tournament officials and dignitaries including South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa, saying: “This ceremony represents and reinforces our netball values.
“Even in the middle of thrilling and competitive world-class competition lies friendship and respect that we feel every day.
“This is an opportunity to reconnect with members of the Netball Family from around our world.”
Nicholl pointed out that 42 countries, over 500 athletes and numerous coaches and officials took part in the five regional qualifying tournaments to get to Cape Town for the Netball World Cup 2023.
“We’re now here in Cape Town with the best 16 teams in the world and 23 world-class technical officials ready for what we know will be 10 days of absolutely fantastic competition,” she said.
The vibrant event gave the visiting teams a taste of what to expect at what promises to be an exuberant and colourful first ever Netball World Cup on African soil.
The Vitality Roses’ World Cup campaign gets underway against Barbados at 7pm on Friday 28 July with all the action live on Sky Sports Arena and YouTube.