Lightning Bolt struck twice
Is the global attention being paid to Usain Bolt at Central Coast Mariners what the A-League needs?14 October 2018 | Sally Freedman
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock since Friday night, you will know that Usain Bolt scored a brace for the Central Coast Mariners causing a social media frenzy across the globe.
Central Coast Mariners described it in an Instagram post as “one of the most memorable games in Australian football history”. Really?! I don’t think so.
I don’t know about you, but I think winning the AFC Asian Cup in 2015 2-1 on home soil in front of 85,000 fans after extra time was one of the most memorable moments in Australian football history. Or perhaps 16 November, 2005: a date etched in Australian football history and one that will never be forgotten when John Aloisi scored the winning penalty as the Socceroos edged Uruguay on penaltiesto send Australia to the 2006 Germany World Cup.
These moments are historical. Usain Bolt trialling against an NPL league 2 side is not historic in my opinion.
However, let’s be fair. The world certainly knows a lot more about the A-League and the Central Coast Mariners thanks to the fastest man in the world scoring a brace.
But when we place some context around this, is it really worthy of all the hype? We need to remember: the opposition were not an A-League team; they were Macarthur South West United. Bolt missed countless easy chances in the first half, making two completed passes in 74 minutes. And yes, Bolt scored two goals. The first was well taken. The second was a tap-in after some woeful defending.
So, is all the media excitement a good thing? No doubt we’ll hear from Central Coast Mariners that the goals were viewed by millions around the world. No doubt there are millions of impressions, likes and engagements that would have cost the club millions if they were to purchase the equivalent media space. And some will also argue any publicity is good publicity.
However, I passionately disagree and think that some news can do more damage than good. Of course, the awareness of the A-League has sky rocketed. And if awareness turns into attraction, attachment and allegiance then I will stand corrected. But my guess is, very few people who now know about the A-League will become regular viewers of the A-League and nor will they buy Central Coast memberships.
I woke up to six text messages from friends around the world who heard the news and were making fun of the Bolt madness. My favourite message - ‘Sally, is Australian football that bad that Usain Bolt can score two goals?’
On the other hand, I also received a phone call from a friend who never watches football. He told me he was so excited as he’d bought two tickets for himself and his son to see Brisbane Roar play Central Coast Mariners next week at Suncorp in the opening round. his words were ‘my son is so excited to see Bolt play next week at Suncorp … he can’t wait.'
— Brisbane Roar (@brisbaneroar) October 12, 2018
I gently explained that Bolt was on trial and that he did not have a professional contract. ‘But he played last night,’ he said. I said ‘yes, he played last night as he is on trial and it was a friendly. But he's not a contracted A-League player yet.' My friend said his son would be devastated. ‘He thinks he’s going to watch Bolt play ninety minutes. Do you think he will get a contract in the next week?’ Of course, the answer to that would normally be no, but with the A-League at the moment, you just never know.
So that’s my wrap. I stand by my original view: Usain Bolt to the A-League – genius strategy or disaster move? For me, it’s still very much the latter.
Editor's Note: Congratulations to Sally who is leaving Australia soon to take up a new role with UEFA as Online Marketing Manager with Euro2020. We wish her all the best!
And, here's an observation point for aspiring football employees: FootballToday.news is widely read in Switzerland by UEFA and FIFA - so much so that the team recruiting Sally commented on her blogs for FootballToday! So, if you want to get noticed by football authorities, write for us!
a-league, usain bolt, central coast mariners