Sydney - Usain Bolt is quickly closing in on a professional soccer career.
The Jamaican great has negotiated an "indefinite training period" with the Central Coast Mariners in Australia's A-League.
eight-time Olympic gold medalist and the 100m and 200m world
record holder has been chasing another career ambition since quitting
quit track and field.
"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," the 31-year-old Bolt said in a statement released by the
Mariners on Tuesday.
"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."
The Mariners said the agreement does not guarantee Bolt a professional contract but does give him the opportunity.
always say that 'Anything is possible, don't think limits,' and I look
forward to the challenge," said Bolt, who is set to travel to Gosford,
north of Sydney, this month to join the squad for practice.
The A-League season opens in October.
has already tried to play with clubs in Germany and South Africa and
some critics have regarded speculation of his latest attempt in
Australia as a public relations stunt.
Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said he is optimistic about Bolt's opportunity.
is important that we don't get too caught up in the hype of
possibilities, but ... we are committed to building a team that will win
matches and instil belief, hopefully Usain can help us on this
mission," Mielekamp said.
"We welcome Usain with open arms, and we will
always remain grounded and focused on the job at hand."
Football Federation Australia responded last month with caution when reports emerged of Bolt's hopes to play in the A-League.
a statement then, the FFA said: "While Usain Bolt is one of the most
famous athletes on the planet, he's not a professional footballer. If
the trial goes ahead and Central Coast Mariners decided it stacks up and
they want to offer him a contract, then we will have a discussion with
them around that and what might be possible."