Usain Bolt, just as he has in many seasons before a big championship while his illustrious career was still ongoing, is in a race against time.
Bolt, the world record holder over 100 and 200 metres, needs to show the Central Coast Mariners he has what it takes to earn a professional contract in Australia’s A-League.
Bolt, generally accepted to be one of the greatest sprinters of all time, has been attempting to achieve his dream of being a professional football player, going on a number of tryouts, the last one an extended stay with Australian top-flight team, the Mariners.
According to Mariners coach, Mike Mulvey, Bolt will have until Christmas, at latest, January, to prove his worth.
Mulvey said, at first, he said he would give Bolt up to a year if necessary, however, that length of time may not be necessary.
“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,” said Mulvey.
A contract for Bolt would be worth approximately $2.2 million per year and while club owner Mike Charlesworth likes the increased visibility of the club with Bolt as part of the setup, he doesn’t intend to take on paying Bolt by himself.
Charlesworth, it is said, is asking the government to foot some of the bill, amounting to just under $700, 000.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t feel he had a realistic chance of making the grade,” said Charlesworth.
However, “If a contract offer is forthcoming, we have an expectancy that the FFA will contribute. As would be the case with any marketable player,” he added.
“[The FFA] will want a level of credibility – which of course we do too,” said Charlesworth.
“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,” he said.
Bolt doesn’t seem too bothered by the new timelines, focusing instead on his next expected fixture.
“If I get to start it will be a big thing for me,” said Bolt.
“it shows that the work I’ve been putting in since I’ve been here is really paying off, and the coach has confidence in me as he sees the improvement and the work I’ve been putting in,” said the sprinting legend.
Mulvey can’t afford to make a mistake either, as the coach was brought in to transform a side that finished last in the A-League a season ago.
Bolt feels he is improving and is desirous of more playing time.
“I feel like I’m improving. My touch is getting better, I’ve got a while to go but with more training and more dedication to my craft I will be fine.
“Getting more minutes in games is the aim. I think that’s the aim for any football player, you want to play as much as you can. For me, I am really looking forward to October 12th and like always, going out there and doing my best. Hopefully, my best is good enough.
“For me to score, it would be a big thing. The Central Coast Mariners took a chance on me and the best way that I can pay them back is to score goals. If I could score a goal for this club, that would mean I am heading in the right direction and showing the club that their chance in me is paying off.
“It would take a lot of pressure off me, as an attacker it’s something that would be good but for me I am just going to work, push myself and hope everything comes together when it matters.”