GOSFORD, Australia (AP) — Usain Bolt practiced with Australian soccer club Central Coast Mariners for the first time Tuesday, taking part in light passing drills and agility tests on his 32nd birthday.
Bolt, who said he passed up chances to try out for clubs in Europe before accepting an offer to come to Australia, pledged to stay with the club for an “indefinite” period. The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired from the track last year, has a long-held ambition to play professional soccer.
“We got offers from teams in Spain, France and stuff like that,” Bolt said. “But for me, it’d be harder because you have to learn a new language. It wasn’t in the top division.
“Australia is somewhere I enjoy coming. This is a start and I’m really appreciative of everything the Mariners have done.”
Bolt previously tried to make teams in Germany, South Africa and Norway, but he is optimistic about breaking through with the Mariners, who finished last in the most recent A-League season.
Mariners head coach Mike Mulvey said he is happy for Bolt stay with the team for a year if that is what he needs to fulfill his ambition.
With his speed not in question, Bolt said he was “good at center forward but open to playing anywhere on the park.”
“I look forward to scoring as many goals as possible and bringing home the trophy,” Bolt said. “But I’m just trying to get over the first hurdle now, that’s to get a contract.”