Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Reggae Boy Bolt? - JFF keeping an eye on former sprinter's football efforts in Australia

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Usain Bolt posing with a Manchester United jersey showing his 100m world record during a visit to Old Trafford in 2012.
Ricketts
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, says he has been paying close attention to the efforts of sprint legend, Usain Bolt, to make his mark as a professional football player, and that he would fully support a call-up to the national team, if the national coaching staff thinks he is good enough.

Ricketts, believes if Bolt can make the crossover from athletics to football, he would rewrite the history books and would be a big crowd puller and marketing tool for whichever team he chooses to represent.

Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m and 200m, will be heading to Australia to try out for A-League team Central Coast Mariners later this month for an indefinite period. The trial was confirmed yesterday by both Bolt and the Mariners, which finished last in the 10-team league last season.

"I have been following it in the media and it is interesting. Jamaica is known all over the globe for its strength and pace and most times it is needed on the football field. So it's not too far-fetched for Mr Bolt to be a footballer of some quality," Ricketts told The Gleaner during an interview yesterday.

"We always want a true representation and the best team to represent Jamaica. So if he is good enough, I would have no problem, I would entertain the thought. Mr Bolt is known globally for his athletic exploits, so it would be an easy sell, because I am sure Mr Bolt's presence would easily fill the stadium as a footballer.

 

EYEING PROGRESS

 

"I would support a call-up. I am not the technical director, but we will be looking at his progress on the football field. It will be interesting going forward, but we hope he will make an impression in Australia and he would certainly become a part of history as that would be no ordinary achievement," Ricketts stated.

Since Bolt retired from athletics following the 2017 World Championships, he has made his intention to become a professional footballer quite clear and has had training sessions at Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund and Norwegian top-flight team Stromsgodset.

Ricketts believes playing in the Red Stripe Premier League could be beneficial for the former sprint star and his football ambitions.

"He has never indicated to us that he wants to be a part of our set-up. He has never indicated to any of our local Premier League clubs that he wants to play locally. I would love for him to make himself available for a local club. Whichever club that would be, they would certainly have a drawing card right away and if he has any national (team) interest, he would be on show for our coaches.

"But certainly if Mr Bolt makes himself available and Mr (Theodore) Whitmore (national head coach) and the coaching staff think he is good enough to represent the country, I would not have a problem at all," said Ricketts.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com