Western Pride assistant coach Reg Davani.
Western Pride assistant coach Reg Davani. David Lems

Emotions run high as ex-Ipswich student builds new career

ALREADY working with the Papua New Guinea national team, Reg Davani is well on his way to a successful coaching career.

However, the PNG assistant coach had to endure one of the most nerve-racking experiences in Ipswich on Saturday night.

Davani stepped up to guide the Western Pride team for the first time against powerhouse opponents Brisbane Strikers.

With help from experienced clubman Dan Burnell and team manager Darryl Christensen, Davani appreciated the opportunity with regular head coach Graham Harvey away.

"A lot of emotions today,'' PNG born and bred Davani said after Pride's hard-fought 1-0 victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

"Preparing the team talk and stuff like that all week, a lot has been on the coaching staff's mind.

"It's a massive achievement for us to get the double (two wins) over the Strikers this year.

"It's not just about the points on the table. It was for the morale of the group.

"It's a credit to this group. It's a time where everyone can stick together, be confident, help each other out and we've done that tonight.''

The former Ipswich Grammar School student has been taken under Harvey's wing this season.

"I've known Graham for a long time,'' Davani, 38, said.

"I'm very privileged that I'm learning a lot under him and working under him.

"I don't think you get many opportunities like that in football so as a young coach, it's been good so far.''

Harvey was happy to mentor Davani.

"He had ambitions to come to Australia and test himself and develop,'' Harvey said.

"I said come over and I'll help you a little bit and you can learn more about the game.

"Ultimately, he wants to take that back to PNG so he can educate people back home.''

Davani said the Western Pride environment was a terrific place to achieve those goals.

"I'm just riding the wave at the moment and these boys are part of that experience,'' he said. "They are an awesome bunch.

"I'm fortunate enough that I've been involved with the national team at home, World Cup qualifiers and stuff like that.

"It's been good the last year and a half.''