WINNING REWARD: Western Pride captain Jesse Rigby with football operations manager Dan Burnell after the club's grand final success.
WINNING REWARD: Western Pride captain Jesse Rigby with football operations manager Dan Burnell after the club's grand final success. Chris Simpson

Dedicated Dan starts new crusade to develop football career

FOOTBALL: Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle said the club's professional approach on and off the field contributed to their latest departure.

Pride operations manager and assistant coach Dan Burnell has accepted a new state league position with the Magpies Crusaders club in Mackay.

Preparing for Pride's latest state league match in Toowoomba on Saturday afternoon, Boyle supported Burnell's application and commended him on his five years of valuable service.

"He's an Ipswich boy and given the plans for a potential A-League (licence) as such, hopefully we can bring his expertise back to the region,'' Boyle said.

"The players have got a lot to thank for this because, with the success that they've been able to produce in recent times, now outside entities are having a look at how we do things . . . and potentially engaging our people.

"It's an actual credit.''

As the club considers options to replace Burnell and former head coach Graham Harvey, Boyle said the Ipswich franchise prided itself on helping its people further their football careers.

"Players and staff are moving forward in their roles, not sideways and that's our mission statement for the club,'' he said.

Burnell said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time and role at Pride.

However, he's leaving for family reasons and the opportunity to enhance his football knowledge.

"I joined our club almost five years ago and have formed some truly wonderful friendships during my time at Briggs Rd,'' Burnell said.

"Together we have also enjoyed some really outstanding achievements together as a staff, and as a club.''

He said hosting a New Zealand men's team, winning last year's historic NPL grand final and a tour to Japan were among highlights.

However, the offer of a full-time role in Mackay was just what the new dad needed.

"About 15 months ago, I resigned from a hugely successful career of 12 years to pursue fresh challenges and a new career start,'' he said.

"I excelled in the travel sales sector and achieved plenty but it continually left me unfulfilled and the passion eventually dried up.''

Developing his operations and logistics role gave Burnell an exciting new focus at Western Pride.

But with his daughter Minty arriving in December last year, he had to reassess his working career along with partner Sarah.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed watching her grow by spending her first seven months together as new parents,'' Burnell said.

"Sadly though, stay-at-home-daddy-work doesn't pay the bills.''

Before joining Pride, Burnell played a leading role with other clubs like the Ipswich City Bulls. He was always keen to promote regional football.

Burnell said the opportunity in Mackay was full-time, allowing him to continue his footballing development in the National Premier Leagues state competition.

The former West Moreton Anglican College student hopes to help the Crusaders as Pride continues its steady progress.

"They're a fledgling club as Pride once were and are on the same journey as a start-up NPL club,'' Burnell said of Mackay.

"They need a little guidance and direction, and I hope I may be able to leave a small footprint on football in the region.''

Burnell hopes to remain in Springfield in the short term, travelling regularly to his new club.

"I have my eyes fixed firmly on a bigger picture,'' Burnell said.

"I am viewing this opportunity as a chance to upskill and learn more about holistic football club operations.''

The experienced Ipswich football official said he would love to return in the future if the city secures an A-League licence.

Burnell thanked the Pride club and particularly former coach Harvey for providing personal and professional development. Harvey was officially welcomed through the week at his new Eastern club in Hong Kong.

"One of the key messages refers to always ensuring you leave the jersey in a better place than how you found it,'' Burnell said.

"While I've never actually tried squeezing my rig into a hooped Pride jersey, I do honestly hope my efforts and contributions over the last five years have certainly left our jersey in a better place.

"For now though, our Pride seniors have a league to go and win.''

Pride head to Toowoomba on Saturday having suffered their worst defeat of the season - 5-1 to Moreton Bay United.

However, still in third place, Pride have an opportunity to consolidate their spot in the top four against 10th placed South West Thunder.

Game day

NPL: Saturday (5pm) - Western Pride v South West Thunder in Toowoomba.

NPL women: Saturday (3pm) - Western Pride v Logan at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

FQPL: Saturday (5pm) - Ipswich Knights v Peninsula at AJ Kelly Park.

CL1: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich City v Oxley United at Sutton Park; Western Spirit v Caboolture at Kippen Park.

BWPL: Sunday (5pm) - Ipswich City v UQFC at Sutton Park.