Usain Bolt's attempted football career with the Central Coast Mariners is a " short-lived sugar-hit that will appeal to a non-football fan for all of five minutes", argues Lucy Zelic
After one of the most painfully long off seasons in world football, the 14th edition of the A-League is finally upon us.
The lead-up has been filled with legitimate football questions like: ‘Is Keisuke Honda going to be a star?’ ‘Can Steve Corica carry the torch for Sydney FC?’ ‘Can Newcastle back up their fairytale season?’
Then there are these. ’Are they seriously going to play music for corner kicks?’ and ‘Will Usain Bolt be given a professional football contract?’
The latter two are ones I never thought constituents of the Australian football community would ever have to ask, yet we find ourselves at the centre of this Siegfried & Roy circus act, whether we like it or not.
Amidst it all, there are still so many questions we don’t have tangible answers to.
Things like ‘how do we bring the fans back to the stadiums?’ or ‘what are the plans to get people watching the games on television again?’
I am yet to hear a convincing argument as to how the fastest man alive’s stint will be beneficial for the professional game beyond a financial standpoint and as for the music at stadiums?
I told A-League chief Greg O’Rourke straight to his face that I didn’t like it.
In a bid to create an atmosphere at the stadiums for less attractive fixtures, the governing body have ignored satisfying the core contingent responsible for creating the buzz - the fans.
Ludicrous ticket prices and over-policing at stadia have been problems for years yet somehow, we’ve ended up with blasting AC/DC over a sound system or bringing on a retired sprinter as potential solutions.
Credit where credit’s due though, FFA’s latest campaign, ‘Where Heroes Are Made’ was a touching tribute to those who graced Australian paddocks as young hopefuls before going on to represent their country and carve out careers abroad.
These are the players who chased a ball when they first learned to walk, who badgered their parents to drive an hour and a half to training everyday, who have ridden the highs and lows of football for their whole lives because they don’t know any different.
For those of you that recently witnessed Bolt in action, how many of you can honestly say that he is more worthy of a contract than them?
The reality is, interest in Bolt’s football career is born purely out of curiosity, so for the six million video viewers worldwide, how many of those do you think are taking our league seriously now that they’ve seen it?
You don’t have to be a highly regarded talent scout to see that he isn’t up to scratch.
This is a short-lived sugar-hit that will appeal to a non-football fan for all of five minutes but then what happens when Bolt is gone and all you’ve got left are the fans you’ve ignored for years and a league with it’s reputation in tatters?
Cast aside your views on the standard of football in this country, the bottom line is, this is the country’s elite competition, where Western Sydney Wanderers won the Asian Champions League and Alessandro Del Piero once called Sydney FC home, so how did we end up here?
Somehow, there is this great myth being perpetuated that cheap gimmicks and Band-Aid solutions are the way forward for football Australia.
I say it’s time to bring back the class and treat the game with the respect that it deserves.