Register Login Scores

SL Radio

Compassion & Hard Work: The 26 Year Fight

Former Technical Director of Women's Football at the South African Football Association (SAFA) Fran Hilton-Smith's determination and love for women’s football has been crucial to the development of the game for close to three decades.

In the early years of Banyana Banyana, she was met with resistance from figures who felt the women’s game had no place in South Africa, and at times, her work left her life in danger. However, since the turn of the century, Hilton-Smith’s behind-the-scenes work has led to remarkable growth.

In 2002, Banyana Banyana won the COSAFA Cup, and seven years later, petroleum giant Sasol teamed up with SAFA to help grow women’s football. According to the now-retired veteran, the latter marked a major shift for the game.

“They’re the power behind Banyana and it’s because of them that team was able to play highly competitive games against the USA, Sweden [and] the Netherlands, which gave them the edge. That’s why they qualified for the Olympics [and] the World Cup, because they were able to compete,” she explained on SL Radio's podcast, The Big Interview.

The former Banyana Banyana coach also expressed her pride in the number of South African women moving to European football leagues; “It’s a dream come true for me. When I worked for FIFA from 2002 until recently, I always used to tell my colleagues and anyone who’d listen that South Africa has the best players in the world and they’d always laugh and say ‘it’s Fran being patriotic.' I used to come back and tell the players [that] they could be on the world stage, we just needed to qualify for the Olympics or specifically the World Cup. I knew they’d be snapped up because we have the most skilful [players]. We have so many, four in a week now being snapped up. Also, what’s great for me is a lot of them are from the high-performance centre (HPC) I started 16 years ago. Linda [Motlhalo], Thembi [Kgatlane], Janine [Van Wyk], Vivo (Nothando Vilakazi), they all come from HPCs. So it shows that the project was worth fighting for as well.”

Listen to all the full interview with Fran Hilton-Smith in the player below.

Download the podcast to listen later (3.3MB)

Note: The player defaults to low for the smallest possible download size. You can adjust it to various qualities, which will change the file size. You can listen to it now, or download the show and listen to it whenever you want.

RADIO: Banyana Captain Janine Van Wyk Discusses Signing Caster...

'I Had To Fight To Get Into Coaching'

'Our Women’s Football Has Gone Up Leaps & Bounds' - Neil Tovey


Top 5

Real Madrid Transfer Talk: Seven Out, Eight In?

18 May 06, 2021 12:29 PM in LaLiga

Injury Latest: Sirino, Zwane & Two Others

10 May 06, 2021 08:25 AM in Mamelodi Sundowns

12 Players Mourinho Wants To Sign

4 May 07, 2021 12:21 PM in Serie A

SAFA Provide Important Update On Ntseki

22 May 06, 2021 09:56 AM in Bafana

New Arrival At Pirates Training

28 May 11, 2021 01:01 PM in Orlando Pirates

Black On Black - Amakhosi Legend Stuns In Latest Polo Fashion Flex

7 May 11, 2021 12:19 PM in Drip, Style & Swag

MMA Superstar McGregor To Buy Premier League Giants?

13 May 10, 2021 02:24 PM in English Premier League

Chiefs Players' Attitudes Under Scrutiny

55 May 09, 2021 11:03 AM in Kaizer Chiefs

Mofedi: It Looks Like Lorch Wants To Leave…

73 May 10, 2021 11:26 AM in Orlando Pirates

Downs’ Mkhulise Responds To French Club Reports

12 May 06, 2021 10:56 AM in Mamelodi Sundowns

The Highest-Paid African Stars In The EPL

18 Feb 02, 2021 07:14 PM in English Premier League

Another Exit At Cape Town City

May 06, 2021 01:33 PM in PSL

12 Players Who Went Bankrupt

23 Dec 07, 2020 12:34 PM in World News

Ex-Chiefs Striker Calls For Patience With Hunt

66 May 06, 2021 12:59 PM in Kaizer Chiefs