BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: Should Usain play in the A-League?
HE IS a star on the athletics track, but Usain Bolt could also be making his name known on the football pitch, with the Jamaican super-sprinter trialling for A-League side the Central Coast Mariners.
Bolt is no stranger to the sport, having trained previously with German giants Borussia Dortmund and Stromsgodset in Norway.
Would Bolt be a welcome addition to the A-League? Or is this just a marketing gimmick?
POTTSY: Bolt all show, it's a no-go
THE IDEA of eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt lacing up the boots for the Central Coast Mariners is surely the idea of an overpaid marketing executive rather than anyone who knows anything about football in Australia.
At a time when the Socceroos were bundled out of the group stages of the World Cup, and the A-League is being blasted for being a sub-standard international competition (by players looking to re-sign for the next season no less), football is at a point where more needs to be done at the top level to promote the sport and develop our best players to be of a world class standard.
How will spending big money on a 31-year-old athletics star help the long-run development of the game? It might get the casual observer through the gates for the spectacle of seeing the Jamaican track star kick a round ball. He might genuinely have football skills, considering he has apparently played all his life.
I think though for long-term growth of football in Australia, the money spent on Usain Bolt would be better spent on marquee players from the best competitions in the world to improve the quality of football on show week in, week out, as well as give our local players a chance to learn from the world's best.
Also, if I was a player plying my trade in the lower leagues looking to break into the A-League, I'd be more than a bit disappointed if a sprinter who has never played football before got his break in the top flight competition ahead of me.
BURLS: Usain a coup for Mariners
USAIN Bolt playing for the Central Coast Mariners, now that is a crowd pleaser. If Usain can hold his own with the round ball, then let him on the park I say. His profile will draw not only the usual youngsters and family with a history with football to the grounds, he will surely tempt the athletics die-hards to spend a pleasant afternoon with the kids in the fresh air. Even those families that attend just to watch him run will be subconsciously saying to their offspring that football is a game to be enjoyed and that mindset will grow the talent pool for Australia.
The FFA should be tripping over themselves to make this a real possibility for the Mariners and Bolt. With football just coming off the World Cup, the timing is great for the sport. The buzz is still around from the Russia event and the media coverage of Bolt's potential inclusion will ensure the focus on football remains in the short term. The interested and intrigued as well as new families to the game will flock to the grounds to see what the hype is all about. The effect should be kids hassling parents to let them play (I badgered my parents at the age of 10). With the potential increase in participation, the new Cahill may be uncovered and set up the Socceroos for 2026.
What an awesome opportunity for CCM, the FFA and the public to see a high-performance athlete transition into a sport that he has played in the background for many years.
He may not score a goal for the Central Coast Mainers but he will score a win for football.