Usain Bolt’s belief and passion to make it as a professional footballer convinced Central Coast Mariners to give the eight-time Olympic gold medallist a shot at earning a Hyundai A-League contract.
That’s what Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp confirmed on Wednesday after it was revealed Bolt will arrive in Australia next week to begin an indefinite trial with the club.
Mielekamp admitted there was no set time frame on Bolt’s audition at the Mariners, with the world’s fastest man to be given as long as he wants to try and secure his dream of playing professional football.
"The one driving thing through this whole thing is his personal belief, passion and desire. That's really kept this going," Mielekamp told a packed press conference at the club’s base in Tuggerah.
“We welcome Usain with open arms and will always remain grounded and focused on the job at hand. Sports lovers will join us and dare to dream.”
What does Bolt have to do to get a contract?
Mielekamp stressed that Bolt is not yet a contracted Mariners player and will need to prove he’s up to the Hyundai A-League standard to get a deal.
"He has to impress the coach and get to a level where the coach is confident he can play regular football,” the Mariners CEO said.
“The first question will be his physical capabilities.
“Our strength and conditioning coaches will look at him first. Until he’s here training with the experts we won’t know what he's capable of.
“Once he ticks all the boxes he’ll be available for pre-season (friendlies)."
"He has to impress the coach and get to a level where the coach is confident he can play regular football."
How this is a boost for football in the region
Mielekamp believes the potential acquisition of Bolt can have a positive effect on the club and the area both on the field and off it.
“He will be living here on the Central Coast. He has agreed to that which is great,” said Mielekamp.
"The focus for him at the moment is to worry about his football. If he can have a little adventure and showcase the beautiful parts of the region then that's great.
"We've been inundated with sponsorship calls this morning. This is about growth for the club in the long term."