Meeney excited by new challenge

AFTER fulfilling one dream job at Worthing Football Club, Jon Meeney embarks on a new adventure in his football career next week when he travels to Finland to take up a coaching role, funded by the Finnish FA.

Jon Meeney
Jon Meeney

Meeney, 24, who was assistant manager at Worthing Football Club last season, will be employed by Abo IFK as head talent coach to work with the club’s elite young players aged from 12 to 19.

The role came up after Meeney impressed when he went out to Finland with some other coaches three weeks ago. Informal discussions took place then, before Meeney went back to Finland on Thursday when he accepted the offer of a 18-month contract.

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Meeney officially starts the job on July 21, although he is flying out to Finland early next week to get familarised with his surroundings. He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m flying out early next week, so I can really hit the ground running.

“My role is funded by the Finnish FA but I’m working for Abo IFK and it will be my responsibilty to work with their elite young players – to develop them and progress them throughout the club.

“It really is exciting. Youth development is a big part of how I see things within my coaching.”

On how the opportunity came about, Meeney said: “I went out there with Andrew Walsh, Tobi Hutchinson and Will Hendon as Mark Hendon has contacts over there, through his role as chief scout at Brighton.

“We went out and did some coaching and everything has then happened so quickly. That’s the nature of it, though, and I can’t wait to start.”

Meeney has been inundated with messages of support since accepting the role and said: “So many people – my friends, family, football colleagues and mentors have been in touch and the amount of support I’ve had has really touched my heart. I’m going to go out there and do everyone proud.”

Meeney follows in the footsteps of another former Rebels assistant manager who has taken to the international stage. Simon McMenemy left Worthing at the end of the 2009-10 campaign and then went on to become Phillippines national manager.

Meeney, who attended English Martyrs and Chatsmore schools, has done youth team coaching at Brighton, Chelsea and at the All-Star Academy, with Rebels boss Adam Hinshelwood and Bognor manager Jamie Howell. He has also worked with Worthing Town and done coaching clinics with local schools.

A short spell as joint manager of County League East Preston got Meeney into senior football coaching and he is thankful to Chris White and Dominic Di Paola, among others, for their help and advice.

Meeney has also worked hard to achieve several coaching qualifications and he believes Rebels can do well next season.

He said: “The young players are only going to improve and I think they are going to have a productive season.

“As a Worthing lad, it was a dream for me to be involved with the Worthing Football Club family. To be assistant manager was a dream come true and the lads know that I will always be there for them.”