Usain Bolt set to play in the A-League

Bolt’s razzmatazz what A-League desperately needs

AFTER a World Cup that reminded us how glorious football can be, the A-League desperately needs a major shot in the arm to rediscover its own sense of excitement.

Enter Usain Bolt.

And there are a number of reasons why anyone with a vested interest in Australian football succeeding should hope the Olympic champion is at least signed to a six-week trial with the Mariners.

It would be easy to sneer, and to suggest that marketing expediency has apparently superseded football decision making. Yet the fundamental problem that the A-League has is its abandonment by great swathes of Australian general sports fans.

They came to see Del Piero, they like razzmatazz and colour. Pure footballing skill isn't in itself enough to persuade them to try the A-League, or else Sydney FC would have been playing to packed houses for most of the past two years.

So hats off to those involved in trying to bring Bolt here for a trial in the unlikely surroundings of Tuggerah, home to the club's centre of excellence.

As a concept it seems to have huge upside and little risk. If Bolt can play football, six weeks on the training pitch will establish that.

And cynics might note that plenty of players whose overriding attribute is pace have already made a career in football.

Simply having Bolt trialling here would create significant interest in the A-League, months out from the start of the new season. But the point would be to establish for both sides how productive the relationship could be.

Usain Bolt is preparing the Australian Cricket team for ‘The Fastest Run’ ahead of The Ashes. Picture: Supplied
Usain Bolt is preparing the Australian Cricket team for ‘The Fastest Run’ ahead of The Ashes. Picture: Supplied

If he cuts the mustard - and a wily coach like Mike Mulvey would not, it's safe to assume, saddle himself with a player who doesn't cut it - then imagine the global focus on the Australian league. After weeks conversing with media and fans from around the world in Russia, the reverse is currently true.

Ultimately the A-League needs to play its way back into form, in the sense of rekindling the interest of a wider market beyond the rusted-on fans.

But a turbo-charge of interest from the arrival of a phenomenon like a Usain Bolt would go a long way to reversing the negativity that enveloped the league next year.

The immediate question is reaching a commercial agreement with one of the world's most marketable athletes. FFA won't say if they've been approached to chip in, or would consider it.

But so far their marquee strategy has landed only Tim Cahill. Andres Iniesta went to Japan, followed by Fernando Torres, both spurning Australia. Meanwhile Besart Berisha, Adrian Mierzejewski and Bobô have all departed.

The A-League needs to be a showcase for Australian talent, garlanded by top foreign players. But it also desperately needs stardust, and the opportunity to get some is a welcome Bolt from the blue.



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