Sprinting down the football field can still be a dream fulfilled by the legendary athlete.
Usain Bolt will train with A-League side Central Coast Mariners on an indefinite trial for as long as it takes to become a professional footballer. He has agreed with the club to reside in the team’s sleepy home base as part of the deal, Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp confirmed on Wednesday.
As reported by The Indian Express, a deal was struck between the club and the Olympic sprint champion would train “indefinitely” with the them. The club finished the previous season at the bottom of Australia’s 10-team top flight and play in one of the country’s smallest football markets.
“His training programme will be structured to see if he can reach a level of play which earns him a professional contract,” Mielekamp told reporters at the Mariners’ base in Gosford, a suburb of the Central Coast region north of Sydney.
“This may take three weeks, this may take three months, this may take six months. It may take longer, who knows? Only time will tell, but it’s exciting to see what this will do for our region. But, the importance for us right now is to look after an athlete who is coming to try to become a professional player.”
Bolt has the experience of training with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Norway’s Stromsgodset. He retired with eight Olympic gold medals, being the fastest man on earth.
“We’ve spoken to him about our club, what our beliefs are. We spoke to him about going down to the local school and doing school appearances and those sort of things and he’s bought right into that which has been fantastic.”
Mielekamp confirmed that the deal has commercial benefits for Bolt, but hoped it would also have a meaningful long-term impact for the Mariners, beyond boosting matchday crowds, which averaged about 8,000 last season, if the world’s fastest man could win a contract.
“We’ve been inundated with sponsors’ calls this morning which has been exciting,” he said. “For us that long-term effect is something we’ve got to be mindful of. How can we use this moment to improve the club for the long-term? But, it’s still very early days.”
The 31-year-old is firm about his motives to become a professional footballer and this is his best shot at it.