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Home Away from Home for our Rising Rebels

Rebels' rookie Theo Fourie is one of a number of interstate players thriving with the Club's Homestay program.
Rebels' rookie Theo Fourie is one of a number of interstate players thriving with the Club's Homestay program.

The opportunity to pursue your childhood dream and begin life as a professional rugby player is an exciting time in any young player’s career.

However, it can also be an incredibly daunting experience, particularly for young interstate players who are forced to relocate from their hometowns in the quest for Super Rugby stardom.

To combat this, the Melbourne Rebels established the Homestay Program – an initiative designed for host families to provide up-and-coming players with a roof over their heads, home cooked meals, transport and a shoulder to lean on during the traditionally gruelling first months of professional sport.

Melbourne Rebels and RUPA Player Development Manager Moana Leilua, believes a supportive home environment is crucial to any young player’s development.

“This program came about from something Dave Wessels started, which was to make sure any of our young players coming through who had to transition interstate to Melbourne, regardless of their type of contract, that we would do everything in our power to make the process as smooth as possible," said Leilua.

“Depending on their age, our players would stay in the program for one or two seasons, before independently going out and pursing their own independent accommodation.

“Those families who have been involved in the Homestay Program have a background in rugby with either Rugby Victoria or the Melbourne Rebels, so in most cases they already have a strong connection to our local rugby community, which really enhances the overall program.

“Our Club is so grateful for these families opening up their homes and for their hospitality which gives our young players those home comforts and great confidence during a demanding time in their lives.

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“Many boys have never left their homes, so our host families play a crucial role at our Club and are a big part of what we do and the culture we’re developing at the Rebels.”

For second year Rebel Theo Fourie, the support of Tim and Anne North has been essential in the helping him settle into Melbourne and focus purely on rugby, maximising his opportunities on the field.

“It’s been huge and a great experience. Tim and Anne welcomed me into their house in October which has been fantastic, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Fourie.

“Obviously, a lot of interstate boys are away from their loved ones and family members, so being able to move away from home but still have that important connection outside of training has been huge and something I’m really grateful for.

“Having that additional support gives you the confidence and grounding to attack training which is great – it’s the little things, like most nights we all eat together, which is great to feel connected.

“I really appreciate the Club for having a program like this, and so do my parents – they’ve been massive supporters of this program and while it’s tough I’m away, they’re really happy I do have that support and connection living here in Melbourne.”

As we enter the home stretch for 2021, the Melbourne Rebels would like to thank all its beloved host families for their valuable guidance, care and support to the Club's up and coming stars.

Stay tuned next year as we continue to profile these families and their incredible impact on the Melbourne Rebels.

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