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Upbeat Proteas netball side head Down Under to World Cup

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South Africa gave a fitting World Cup send-off to the SPAR Netball Proteas in Pretoria at the weekend.
The World Cup will be played in Sydney from 7-16 August and Netball South Africa and team sponsors SPAR organised a farewell dinner for the team, their families and loved ones at a Pretoria hotel with Gauteng Provincial MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Molebatsi Bopape giving the key note address on behalf of government. Sponsor representatives and members of the media were also in attendance.
MEC Bopape said that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and his Deputy Gert Oosthuizen had asked her to pass on their best to the SPAR Proteas and the MEC also gave the team well wishes from the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura. ‘The Minister his Deputy and Premier would dearly have loved to be with us all tonight but have Mandela Day duties to fulfill around the country. Actually to me it’s no coincidence that we are celebrating the SPAR Proteas travelling to the World Cup on Mandela Day, it’s a fitting match that a team of such talent should be celebrating netball when we are celebrating an icon that said that sport plays such a role in unifying a nation.’
A special message from the teams newly appointed Australian coach, Norma Plummer who could not attend the dinner was broadcast to the audience from Melbourne. Plummer said that she was honored to have been appointed coach of the SPAR Proteas. ‘We have a great bunch of athletes in the team and they are hungry to learn and deliver and I would like to thank Netball South Africa for honoring me with the coaching job.’
MEC Bopape said that each one of the SPAR Proteas should be proud of what they achieved. ‘Each one of you sitting here tonight with your families have achieved so much in making the World Cup team. You are an inspiration to so many thousands of hopeful youth out there, you should embrace that responsibility.’
SPAR Group Marketing Executive, Mike Prentice confirmed that his company would be paying an incentive to the team should they return to South Africa with a medal.’“SPAR will gladly pay a R500,000  bonus for any medal won in Sydney by South Africa but if the team bring back silver we will pay R750,000 and for gold we will pay R1-million. We wish the SPAR Proteas all the very best, we believe in them and are proud to be associated with netball.’
Both captain Maryka Holtzhausen and assistant captain Bongi Msomi told the audience that they were excited to travel to Sydney and felt well prepared for the World Cup.
Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthetwa closed the evening off with a fitting tribute to the SPAR Proteas saying that her Executive had done all they could to give the best preparation to the team and were totally committed to their success and felt that the team spirit was special and the team would do not only themselves but the country proud.
The team jetted off from Johannesburg on Sunday evening for New Zealand where they will play two tests against the Silver Ferns (New Zealand). The team would remain in New Zealand with coach Plummer to prepare for the World Cup.

Picture of Proteas players celebrating their send-off is courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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