Usain Bolt is scheduled to play in his first professional soccer game, for a club in Australia.
Bolt, 32, from Jamaica, burst onto the world stage in the 2008 Olympics, winning the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints and setting records in each.
After starring in the next two Olympics, he retired from sprinting in 2017.
Bolt has long loved watching professional soccer and in the past year or so has been training with various clubs in an effort to become a professional player.
As part of his open-ended trial with the Central Coast Mariners, he will play in a game on Friday, Aug. 31, as the team takes on a team of local amateurs, reported Sky Sports.
Bolt Anxious About Debut
“There will be nerves. It’s not like it is a charity game anymore, this is a career that I am pursuing,” Bolt said. “I expect to make mistakes but also to make myself proud and to push myself. I know I am not going to have a perfect game.”
Bolt said he’s been playing mostly on the left wing, where his legendary sprinting speed could be used to run past defenders, gather passes, and score goals.
“It has been my dream to play professional football and I know that it will involve a lot of hard work and training to get to the level required to play and make an impact in the A-League,” Bolt said in a statement released by the Mariners when the agreement was announced in mid-December.
“I am very excited about coming to Australia and would like to thank the owner and management of the Central Coast Mariners for giving me this opportunity,” he said.
Skills Need to Be Improved
The staff of Central Coast told The Associated Press that Bolt has some skills but it’s about bringing them up to the speed of a professional.
“He’s got rudimentary skills, there’s no problem about that. It’s about being able to do it at the speed that we do it, ” coach Mike Mulvey said. “The thing he’s struggling with more than anything else right now is getting used to the football fitness.”
Bolt noted that the training for sprinting and football is much different but that he’s making progress.
“For me, it’s the stop and go’s, the tick-tacks. Because I’m not used to picking up speed, going back down, up and down, up and down, back and forth, that’s the most challenging,” he said. “The season doesn’t start until the end of October, so I have time,” he said.
Bolt previously spent trial periods with teams in Germany, Norway, and South Africa.