Legendary footballer and coach Hélio “Pépe” dos Santos wants to take a group of youngsters from his football team to Portugal to expose them to life outside of South Africa and give them opportunities they don’t have in their own communities.
Pépe, as he is affectionately known, owns Cape Town Chiefs, a Blouberg-based football team that use Bloubergrant High School as their training ground.
The team are registered under the Athlone Premier Amateur League.
About half of the players come from poor neighbourhoods, including Dunoon, Langa and Kuils River.
“I came to South Africa at the end of 1960,” says Pépe, “and the following year, I played for Arcadia Shepherds in Pretoria. But most of my career I spent playing in Cape Town.
“I played for Cape Town Spurs and Vasco for many years. I retired at 31, but I came back out of retirement at 39.”
Permanent retirement only came many years later at the age of 52, when he was playing in the local Premier League in Camps Bay.
At the launch of Cape Town City Football Club in June 2016, Pépe along with 29 other Cape Town footballing legends, received lifetime season tickets for the PSL club.
Pépe is the elder brother of Sergio dos Santos, who played for Hellenic, Cape Town Spurs and Kaizer Chiefs.
Twenty years ago, Pépe bought a second-division franchise, Cape Town Chiefs, which played in the Vodacom League. He sold it after two years because they lost the training grounds they used to use at Cape Town High School.
“We used the school to play some of our matches as well, but when the old principal died, another one came that was not into soccer. He was only interested in rugby so they squeezed me out.”
But although he sold the club, he kept the Cape Town Chiefs name and so gave it to the team he started two years ago. Pépe now wants to take his team to Portugal and play a few games and get international exposure.
“We are going to play six games in Portugal, with the last game being against Sporting Lisbon’s second team.”
Sporting is a big club in Portugal, having produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Ricardo Quaresma.
Chiefs will be leaving for two weeks on September 27.
Pépe has future plans to buy a team in the South African Breweries Regional League, also known as the Castle Regional League, but he wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag as to which team yet.
The club are raising money for the trip and will hold a fund-raiser at the Portuguese Club on Saturday September 1.
The evening includes a three-course dinner, two bottles of wine for the table and dessert, at R300 per person. There will also be live musical entertainment from Pépe and his partner, Carlos.
* Contact Pépe at 082 299 4096, Dane Taylor at 072 225 0175 or email email@example.com for tickets and more information.