Label volunteer, Bella Butler, updates us on the career of Olympian, Usain Bolt.
Usain Bolt’s short-lived trial with the Central Coast Mariners football club has come to a disappointing end for both parties. Bolt joined the team for an indefinite training period in August but has turned down his contract after the club was unable to secure “commercial solutions” to keep him.
It was deemed impossible that the world’s fastest man would be able to switch careers at such a late stage in his sporting life. After retiring from athletics last year, aged 31, he was quoted to have said it was his new “dream” to play football at a professional standard; his ultimate ambition to play for Manchester United. However, this was wishful thinking. Many have speculated that his entry into the Mariners was primarily based on his fame, and not his footballing abilities. Andy Keogh, former Ireland attacker, stated that Bolt had “shown a bit of potential, but it’s a little bit of a kick in the teeth to the professionals that are in the league”.
Bolt’s presence on the field was hypothesised to be brief due to the lack of funding assistance from the Australian FA, and their refusal to finance the Bolt deal using the marquee player fund. This ended up being the ultimate problem with his contract; an offer of £83,000 short of the £1.7million that Bolt expected. The Mariners attempted to find a third party to help finance Bolt as a player, and after numerous promising partner leads, no deal was possible.
It would be interesting to see if the Mariners had explored all the commercial benefits of worldwide shirt sales, increased television audiences, plus increased match day attendance which could have benefited both the club, and Bolt as he is one of the most recognised faces on the planet. One mustn’t forget that Bolt is acclaimed with being the man that saved and relaunched world athletics. He is still mentioned alongside some of the greatest sports stars in the last twenty-five years; up there with the likes of Pele, Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, and Serena Williams.
Regardless of Keogh’s statements – which included that Bolt had a first touch “like a trampoline” and would never make it as a professional – he did have some talent. After playing his first match for the Mariners in October, he scored two goals against Macarthur South West, contributing to the 4-0 win. Bolt, of course, celebrated with his signature lightning bolt strike in number 95, signifying his world record 9.58 100m time. Ross McCormack was on-loan from Aston Villa, and commented on Bolt’s performance: “If he pulls it all together, he can be some threat”.
In failing his dream with the Mariners, Bolt will leave Australia and, potentially his professional football career. Mike Charlesworth, the football club’s owner, still has hope for Bolt in football: “Whilst we understand that Usain will not be part of the club going forward, the Central Coast Mariners wish him all the best in his future endeavours and we hope that opportunities arise to collaborate in other capacities in the future,” he said. We will continue to see what is in store for the iconic Bolt and his sporting career; it will not be the last we hear of him.
Featured image by: Amie Woodyatt