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CCBA reporter Terry Collins sits down with Mariers CEO, Shaun Mielekamp. CCBA reporter Terry Collins sits down with Mariers CEO, Shaun Mielekamp. Featured
25 July 2018 Posted by 

EXCLUSIVE: MARINERS CEO INTERVIEW

Courting the world’s FASTEST MAN
TERRY COLLINS
W
ILL he or won’t he? Speculation continues to rage over whether or not champion athlete Usain Bolt will commit to a six-week trial with our very own Central Coast Mariners, with a contract for the coming season in the offing.

CCBA reporter Terry Collins sat down with Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp for the latest update on just how negotiations are going.
 
IT might have started out as a bit of a pipe dream but seeing eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt lob on the Coast late next month for a six-week trial with the Mariners is looking more and more likely.
 
With negotiations in their final stages and an announcement expected within weeks, Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp remains confident the world-famous athlete will be soaking up the Central Coast winter sunshine by late August.
 
Since news broke of the impending signing last week, Bolt is reported to have received offers from clubs worldwide, some not involving a trial period, but Mr Mielekamp remains unfazed.
 
“You have to dare to dream and we believe in the impossible,” he said.
 
“Our negotiations are moving forward every day and our head coach has also been in personal contact with Bolt.”
 
Mr Mielekamp said it was “quite common” for an athlete of Bolt’s standing to receive multiple offers, but he remained confident the Central Coast would prove to be the “best fit” for the world’s fastest man.
 
So how did we get here? The initial approach came to the Mariners some months ago via sports agent Tony Rallis.
 
“I understand the offer was made to other clubs, but none of them was the right fit,” Mr Mielekamp said.
 
“We would never laugh off such a suggestion, but it took some time for us to look at the proposal.
 
“It went from being a light hypothetical to a very real possibility and we began negotiations, which have escalated in the past month.
 
“It’s all about the structure of our region and how it is fitted to provide an atmosphere where Bolt can perform at his best.
 
“The Central Coast is known to be a great environment for players to grow in.”
 
It doesn’t hurt that Bolt has been a frequent visitor to Australia and is known to love the beach lifestyle.
 
“The beauty of our region is on our side,” Mr Mielekamp said. “It would also be possible for Usain to live a fairly normal life here, away from the paparazzi, so he can focus on his football.”
 
While a couple of previous trials with European clubs proved fruitless, Mr Mielekamp said each experience had improved the athlete’s football skills.
 
“At the same time, he would be treated the same as any other pre-season triallist and a contract would only be offered if his skills were up to it,” he said.
 
“This isn’t a gimmick or a farce – the integrity of the game must be preserved.”
 
That said, if Bolt were to train, and eventually sign, with the Mariners, it would mean huge things for the Central Coast region.
 
An estimated 130 million people worldwide gobbled up social media posts about the prospective trial within 30 hours of the news breaking.
 
The Coast is already very firmly on the world map with an eventual Bolt signing likely to catapult the region into becoming a virtual mecca for soccer fans.
 
The first benefit would obviously be seen in increased gate sales at Central Coast Stadium for an ailing Mariners team, which Mr Mielekamp concedes is coming out of a few “tough years”.
 
“But it’s about more than just giving the Mariners a lift,” he said.
 
“With Bolt on the team, gate sales would skyrocket, with not just local fans re-engaging, but enthusiasts pouring into the Coast from all over – even from overseas.
 
“And they would all be staying on the Coast and spending their money on the Coast – with huge benefits to tourism and to everything from small businesses to larger companies.”
 
Mr Mielekamp is keen to engage in partnerships with Central Coast businesses going forward.
 
“A sports partnership is more than just having your logo on the stadium wall,” he said.
 
“As with any partnership, businesses should ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ and the answer is – there is a lot in it for them.
 
“Sports marketing can do wonders for businesses, helping them to develop fans for their business rather than customers – there are endless possibilities.
 
“What we need to do in coming weeks is get the whole region Bolt-ready so everyone can benefit from him being here.”
 
Bolt or no Bolt, Mr Mielekamp remains confident the Mariners are on the verge of a boom time.
 
“It’s been a rough few years, during which we have consolidated the business side of the Mariners and now it’s time to focus intently on on-field performance,” he said.
 
A huge step in that direction came with the signing of former Manchester United assistant coach Mike Phelan as sports director. He arrives on the Coast next week and could be an extra carrot in the wooing of Bolt, who is known to be a Manchester United fan.
 
“With Mike, who has nurtured such players as Cristiano Ronaldo, overseeing our entire sports program we are confident the Mariners are well on the way to recapturing the glory days,” Mr Mielekamp said.
 
If your business would like to discuss a partnership with the Central Coast Mariners, contact Gabby Bowles (gbowles@ccmariners.com.au) or Cameron Stone (cstone@ccmariners.comau) or call one of them on 4353 7200.

 



editor

Michael Walls
Publisher
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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Central Coast Business Access (CCBA) covers the business and community issues of the NSW Central Coast region. CCBA is a prime media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities.