Developing young players drives Nani

Headshot of Justin Fris
Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Jamie Nani sets off after Claremont’s David Antonowicz during a 1999 Westar Rules clash.
Camera IconJamie Nani sets off after Claremont’s David Antonowicz during a 1999 Westar Rules clash. Credit: Ken Maley

Bunbury league coach Jamie Nani has achieved a lot throughout his football journey on each side of the magnet board.

But despite being regarded as one of the best in the SWFL, his desire to branch out into coaching took some time to develop after a successful playing career in WA.

“Too be honest, no, I never saw myself becoming a coach,” he said. “I felt when my footy days were over I would like to remain involved in some way.

“Initially when I finished playing, I was runner/assistant coach for a couple of years and then the opportunity came up for me to stay involved in footy.

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“I took it and I have loved every minute.”

Nani has coached plenty of champions during his club and country week stint, including Jesse Gribble, Hayden Yarran, Brett Peake and Jarrod Humphries.

But equally during his time as a teenager, breaking into the WAFL with Swan Districts in 1995, Nani had plenty of inspiration to draw from.

“Swans were not travelling super well,” he said.

“But we had the likes of Travis Edmonds, Craig Callaghan was there from the Fremantle Dockers and Greg Madigan had come over from Hawthorn — he was also tied to the Dockers.

“Then you had Peter and Christian Kelly, who were good footballers at the time.”

At the end of 1996, Nani decided to join his brother Shane at East Perth, in a move which had some personal satisfaction for him.

“I was always an East Perth supporter growing up,” he said.

“And I was tied to Swans until I reached a certain age, when (as a player) you could choose to go elsewhere.”

It was interesting times for the Royals in 1997, who began life under former Collingwood enforcer Kevin Worthington.

The league side may have been bundled out of the finals instantly by Perth but the reserves were red-hot and Nani got a firsthand taste of playing in a grand final at Subiaco Oval.

In one of three grand finals which were decided by a kick or less on the day, the Royals were pipped by Subiaco in a thrilling contest by five points.

Nani played a further 14 league games across the 1998 and 1999 seasons — however, little did he know, the next 20 years would ultimately shape his football legacy in the South West.

After a successful coaching tenure with Carey Park’s reserves, Nani returned to Bunbury, another club close to his heart.

But although he has won league premierships and senior country week titles as a coach, there is one thing the Bulldogs boss can never get enough of.

“I think the most satisfying thing is watching young guys develop and go to their full potential,” Nani said.

“And probably the most challenging is getting those young kids to realise that potential.”

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