The Cumberland Throw

TCT Special Feature – The Parra House, A Home Away From Home

Nestled in a quiet street, just a stone’s throw away from the Eels Kellyville HQ, is a beautiful home away from home for a small group of young players.

Known as the “Parra House”, it’s so much more than just a place of accommodation for players living away from their families. And that has everything to do with the couple responsible for caring for these young men, Char Henry and Milo Figota.

The concept for the “Parra House” dates back to 1994 when Kevin Wise, then the Eels office manager, and his wife Lin, became the first host parents (house parents).

Up to that time, the Eels had used rotating households that would take a player or two into their homes (something that is still done for select players). Kevin and Lin had provided one of those homes, but when the thought turned to what more could be done, the decision was made for the club to acquire a property at Northmead that could be dedicated to looking after young players who had relocated when they joined the football program. 

Lin volunteered their family, and the Northmead home functioned in that role from 1994 to 2021. At first, six players were brought in before an ideal number of four players was settled on.

Kevin and Lin were host parents for around 8/9 years, and they were followed by other couples including Mark and Millie Horo, Anthony and Lisa Field, and Dean and Jodie Feeney.

Other NRL clubs soon started their own houses, with a number of those modelled on the Parramatta experience.

Recently, Forty and I were invited for a barbecue and a tour of the new Hills district Parramatta House.

  

For privacy reasons, we didn’t take photos of the outside of the house or of the players’ rooms. However, we can share that it is a beautiful two storey residence with a large number of bedrooms, ensuites, bathrooms, living areas and study spaces. There is even a spare bedroom to accommodate visiting parents.

Positive affirmations, household responsibilities, football and personal goals can be found on message boards in study spaces. There are also close ties with David Gower and Aunty Chris Gwynne from the Eels welfare department. It all adds up to a caring environment with both structure and support.

Char and Milo have been in their role of host parents for almost a year, and the household  includes their own son Brody-Jack.

The players in the house are all currently from Queensland, though each has their own separate story and journey to Parra. They are (as they appear left to right in the photo above) Lance Fualema, Ethyn Martin, Will Lewis and LeBron Tuala.

All of the fellas are currently part of the Flegg squad, with LeBron, Lance and Will graduating from the successful SG Ball team. Ethyn linked with the Eels a couple of months ago.

When we arrived, we sat down with the boys around the table on the back verandah. LeBron broke a lot of the ice, “interviewing” his housemates on various topics of interest. He’s a funny lad and raw fish was revealed as a surprise favourite food for the quartet.

Visitors for the barbecue included Aunty Chris, Char and Milo’s oldest son Ty and his baby daughter, Dakota (a future Eel), along with Tarsha Gale and NRLW players Kasey, Tallara, Lindsay, and Rose. The positivity and sense of belonging was in abundant supply.

Before visiting the Parra House, I was already somewhat familiar with the caring and giving nature of Char and Milo. Both have roles in Parra’s pathways teams, and Char is also the blue shirt trainer with the Eels NRLW side whilst Milo is their gear steward.

However, I was unprepared for how moving our recorded chat would be, especially when we reached the topic about how they will deal with players eventually moving out of the house. You can hear that yourselves in the attached podcast, but believe me the tears were welling up in everyone’s eyes.

In the podcast, Char and Milo share how they became involved, the joy that they get from being host parents, the importance of family and staying connected with the players’ families, which players excel in various household chores, as well as the support provided by the Eels.

Later, we turned the TCT microphones over to the players as they discussed a little about themselves and exchange some typical footy banter.

A huge thanks to Char and Milo, their family and the players for making The Cumberland Throw so welcome. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about the Parra House.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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3 thoughts on “TCT Special Feature – The Parra House, A Home Away From Home

  1. Colin Hussey

    What a wonderful story Sixties, & not just a story but one that inspires young people to go forward and work towards that they can be proud of.

    Being an old Northmead kid that has aged somewhat, its a place that I loved and handy to the old Cumberland oval, these days I can no longer go to games for a number of reasons, but the legacy of those locations and the eels team has always been a real training ground for & into the future.

    Thanks for the post and hope these young players and their families will be proud of their young players and strive to & for the future with the eels.

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks Colin. I can’t speak highly enough of these young men, and also Char & Milo and their family. The club has certainly found wonderful people. I hope people get the opportunity to say hello to the family and the boys.

  2. Anonymous

    Hearing the emotion in the voices of Char and Milo made it evident that this was so much more than a club role for them.

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