Christmas came early to the Fiji National Rugby League yesterday following an undisclosed five-year sponsorship by FMF and the sealing of the Ram Sami partnership.

FMF is now a major sponsor of the Vodafone Fiji Bati and an official partner of FNRL’s community and pathway programmes.

FNRL chairman Viliame Naupoto said: “In spite of the impact of this pandemic, we remained optimistic about the future of the sport.”

“We stood committed to bringing in genuine partnerships to grow and develop our game.”

“FMF shares our vision to reach and enrich our diverse Fijian communities and today they’re confident to work with us to another chapter of World Cup history,” he said.

Last week, Sun Sports highlighted national coach Jo Rabele and a team of officials who have been giving free lunches to players on the FNRL High Performance Unit programme.

FMF stepped on board to sponsor the Vodafone Fiji Bati’s World Cup and HPU unit preparations.

Speaking to Sun sports, Rabele said: “We are thankful that the sponsorship with FMF has been secured.

“This sponsorship will assist us in our 2022 World Cup preparation and HPU programmes.”

“We are so grateful that the meals and other logistics are taken care of; now we can concentrate on the core programmes.”

“This includes preparations and build up to the 2022 and 2025 RLWC and the 2023 Youth World Cup.”

“Rabele disclosed that their plan is to have 40 per cent of those in the next World Cup to be made up by local based players.”

“We have some in the Kaiviti Silktails and some here at home,” Rabele said.

FMF Managing Director Sanjay Punja said: “In the past we have sponsored some prominent names like Lote Tuqiri.”

“The substantial amount we are now going to give is to support more of those in the coming years.”

“This partnership is long term; it goes beyond the coming Rugby League World Cup.”

Meanwhile, another Fijian business, Ram Sami has also come on board as partners with FNRL.

They are supplying official jerseys and will provide eggs as part of the HPU meals.

FNRL acting chief executive officer Don Natabe said Ram Sami stepped in at the right time.

“We thank Ram Sami for coming on board.”

“We hope to secure a commercial partnership with them come next year,” Natabe said.

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be held in England from October 15 to 19 November, 2022.