Fiji Time: 5:05 AM on Tuesday 28 April

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Leps off to league

Manoj Kumar
Friday, May 18, 2012

THEIR eyes lit up and a huge sense of relief could be seen on the faces of a bunch of budding league enthusiasts from Nakasi yesterday.

The Cowboys rugby league side, set for their Fiji National Rugby League debut tomorrow, met their sponsor from Toronto, Canada, Mahendra Gopal at 9 Miles.

His Tiffany's of Canada firm is backing the new team and they gave him a fitting welcome.

"Today (yesterday) marks one of the most significant days in the short history of the young Tiffany's Nakasi Cowboys Rugby League Club," club president Saimone Tucila said.

"It marks the formalising of the relationship between Tiffany's and Nakasi Cowboys. It marks the beginning of what we hope will be a lasting relationship."

He said despite facing teething problems, they were focused on getting the club going and to manage the side with 'strong conviction and vision' and 'in an effective, transparent and accountable manner'.

Nakasi community policing officer and Cowboys adviser, Cpl Moape Kotoisuva said all eyes were on youth development "in line with the Government of the day's plan and policy".

Kotoisuva stressed to the players the importance of them playing their part with discipline and commitment.

Reverend Seru Luvu, Methodist minister Navuloa circuit, and Northland coach Watisoni Ratulevu were also in attendance.

Gopal, who has organised a charity golf tournament at the Nadi Airport Golf Club on Sunday to help raise $20,000 for the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for flood victims, said he was humbled to be given such a warm welcome and raised his sponsorship from $3000 to $5000 which could add up to around $10,000 with sponsorship of team uniform, boots and an end-of-the-year awards night with prizes to be brought in from Canada.

"Sport is not all about winning. I want you guys to go out there and enjoy yourself," Gopal told the players.

Gopal reiterated the need for the club to maintain discipline and for the youngsters to play their way to the top.

Former Nadi rugby union looseman, prop Saverio Lomanivere said they were many youngsters in the side and he was hopeful of a bright future for them.

Former Fiji sevens rugby pivot Lepani Nabuliwaqa has been training with and helping the Cowboys.

And he revealed to Times Sport that he will be making his rugby league debut tomorrow.

"I have done my bit in union and I think it's time I gave something back to the team from my area," he said.

"This is about me being there for these youngsters. There is so much potential in this team, so much enthusiasm and the boys can't wait for Saturday."

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