Letsatsi, second right, is the mascot for next year's Netball World Cup ©World Netball

Letsatsi the meerkat has been unveiled as the mascot for the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa, being revealed during the Opening Ceremony of the African qualification event in Pretoria.

The smiling meerkat, who dons the traditional netball dress in orange and pink colours, also sports a headband that says "I Love Netball".

Letsatsi is based off the design of 11-year-old Violet Cassidy from Manchester in England, who said her idea came from meerkats' instinct to work together.

They are also known for female dominance, a trait which resembles netball.

"I have chosen a meerkat because meerkats work together as a team and are native to South Africa," Cassidy said.

Letsatsi's name means "sun" in the Sesotho language.

"The unveiling of Letsatsi signifies the milestones that we have reached as the Netball World Cup Board and community," said Netball South Africa President Cecilia Malokwane. 

South Africa are to host the next edition of the Netball World Cup ©Getty Images
South Africa are to host the next edition of the Netball World Cup ©Getty Images

"We have always said that this Netball World Cup belongs to all Africans and not only to South Africa.

"I am very happy that we are at this point, this is a clear indication of how ready we are to welcome the world to our shores, we are ready to deliver an African World Cup. 

"The unveiling of Letsatsi tells the world that we are ready for them."

Already-qualified South Africa and Malawi are competing at the ongoing tournament - which is set to end on Saturday (August 27) - with seven other teams.

They are Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya and Eswatini.

One of those will become the third African team to qualify for the World Cup, set to be held from July 28 to August 6 in 2023.