Jolt For Bolt To Win Race For Football Contract
Jamaican icon given until end of year to impress Down Under
Usain Bolt is used to a sprint, but the race is now on for the Jamaican icon to prove that he is worthy of winning a contract with Australian top flight football team Central Coast Mariners.
But the 32-year-old’s proposed evolution to go from an Olympic runner to a professional footballer has been given a jolt.
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey, brought in to transform the side that last season finished rock bottom of the A-League, has made a U-turn and decided to give Bolt a set target to impress him enough to become their stellar signing.
No nonsense man Mulvey, a former A-League champion, has firmly stated that he will determine at Christmas – or January at the latest – whether Bolt is worthy of winning a professional contract.
Mulvey revealed: “In the initial dispatches he (Bolt) talked about how he needed time, I said at the time we will give him 12 months if need be.
“But I think a reasonable assumption would be around about Christmas time, maybe January, when we should be really judging on whether he’s really improved or not.”
The eight-time Olympic gold medallist is training on trial with the Mariners, north of Sydney, chasing a full-time contract to fulful his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
But another sticking point on top of whether Bolt is good enough is financing a lucrative deal.
With rumours that Bolt would be expecting to earn US$2.2m a season-long contract, then club owner Mike Charlesworth wants the FFA to contribute around US$0.65m.
Charlesworth, a British millionaire, has few reservations about signing Bolt. Yet to do so he would want a contribution from the Football Federation Australia (FFA).
London-based Charlesworth has seen the much-publicised arrival of Bolt boast the club’s profile and last month helped attract 10,000 spectators to a friendly.
Hkwever, Bolt has made only one appearance in pre-season friendlies, kicking off his career Down Under with an 18-minute substitute role against an amateur outfit.
Charlesworth said: “He (Bolt) came here because he likes the lifestyle. Over 350 million people globally have read about him and his hopes of playing in the A-League.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t feel he had a realistic chance of making the grade.
“If a contract offer is forthcoming, we have an expectancy that the FFA will contribute. As would be the case with any marketable player, they will want a level of credibility – which of course we do too.
“The FFA want to look at Bolt closely before investing, and we’re the same. Of course the FFA would want to capitalise, but they won’t do that until they know he’s up to the level.”
Bolt is expected to play his next pre-season against Sydney League outfit Macarthur South West United on 12 October prior to the Mariners kicking off their season in Brisbane against the Roar on 21 October.
And Bolt said enthusiastically bout the club’s next friendly: “If I get to start it will be a big thing for me.
“It shows that the work that I’ve been putting in since I’ve been here is really paying off, and that the coach has confidence in me as he sees the improvement and the work I’ve been putting in.”
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