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Proteas prepare to head off to World Cup

The national team received a big send-off at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.

Fans came to say their goodbyes to the team ahead of Cricket World Cup. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As the Proteas head off to the World Cup today, the team was given a send-off at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.

Regardless of whether the team is successful or not, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says send-offs are about national pride.

"This, to me, is about the pride of the nation. It's about the boys and girls, to know that they represent this great nation of theirs. They are going to defend the pride of the nation and let them go and do us proud."

In a statement earlier today, the minister said, "This team selected from our crème de la crème represents a harbinger of a future social cohesive, non-racial and united South Africa."

He said the Proteas are a product of the visionary endeavours of Nelson Mandela, Steve Tshwete and Kepler Wessels, among others.

Speaking to the team, Mbalula said, "You are going out there as Team South Africa, neither as tokens nor traitors. You constitute a body of united democratic South Africa that is in a state of constant change. In your veins flows the blood of African warriors and victors who have tasted victory on countless occasions."

The Proteas play two warm up games against Sri Lanka and New Zealand next week before taking on Zimbabwe in their opening game on 15 February.

The Piazza at Melrose Arch is covered in South African flags and Protea fire branding.

The atmosphere here @MelroseArch is fantastic as we join the #Proteas to wish them the best of luck for the CWC. pic.twitter.com/RBxjxneDGH

The World Cup starts on 14 February.

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