Following in my father’s footsteps


At the weekend, friends and family bid farewell to Cape soccer legend, Dougie Carelse, who died two weeks ago after a short battle with cancer.

The funeral service was held at St Luke’s Church, in Salt River, following a memorial service earlier in the week at Salt River Blackpool FC’s clubhouse, in Shelley Road.

Dougie’s son, Brent, a former Ajax Cape Town, Hellenic and SuperSport United player, said he shared a special bond with his father – both equally passionate about soccer and both midfielders.

Brent said he always knew that one day he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play soccer at the highest level.

However, playing soccer was a different ball game for Dougie and his peers, as they not only had to face their opposition on the field, but also faced an apartheid regime, hell-bent on making sure that the playing field was never going to be level for sports loving people.

Highly respected and admired by his teammates and rivals, Dougie was a major drawcard to football venues across the city and the country during his playing days in the 60s and 70s

Those who knew him well say he was not just good on the ball at his feet, he also became a highly rated coach, and among the first South Africans to obtain top flight coaching qualifications.

Now that Brent has hung up his boots, he’s in the process of getting his coaching badges.

“My relationship with my father was good because we had something in common, and that was our love for football.

“It’s been like that for me from an early age. I always had a soccer ball at my feet wherever I went,” he said.

“Somehow, he knew back then already that one day I’ll become a professional soccer player.

“My dad had an FA coaching qualification which he obtained in England at the age of 21, when his father sent him over.

“While there, he also played soccer in the lower divisions and had stints with Crystal Palace, Leeds United and other clubs.

“When he returned to Cape Town, he joined Cape Town Spurs as a player-coach and captained the side.

“My father also played for the Vereeniging Old Boys, Hotspurs and Swaraj.

“Wherever he went, the team would win the league. He would always attract good players and played alongside top players like Shakes Mashaba, Boebie Solomons and Rashied Khan,” he said.

Dougie played a starring role at the William Herbert Sports Ground, in Wynberg where he turned out for the legendary Woodside.

He later moved to Johannesburg where Brent started his soccer journey with an outfit called Rangers, at the age of five.

“During my junior days my father was coaching Bosmont Chelsea in the National Soccer League (NSL).

“I remember being a ball boy for his team one time when they played against Kaizer Chiefs, and lost 3-0,” said Brent.

“Just being on the field in front of a packed stadium and listening to the fans cheer, I knew that playing soccer is what I wanted to do.

Unlike his father, Brent had more opportunity to play at the highest level.

However, despite making it big, friends and family would always tease him, and say he would never be as good as his old man.

“We have a lot of similarities in the way we play.

“We are both calm players on the field, very methodical and good readers of the game.

“He was a defensive midfielder, but also managed to score goals because he had a fierce shot on him. They say he’d break goal posts with his shot.

“My father was someone that always wanted to see the best in people.

“He made a lot of friends through his sport and was a kind and respectful person,” he said.

– Additional reporting by

Fuad Esack