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 Semenya

'I Had To Fight To Get Into Coaching'

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

comments

Top 5

Chiefs 10 Youngest Goalscorers Revealed!

16 Aug 11, 2022 10:59 AM in Kaizer Chiefs

Official: 2022 Ballon d'Or Nominees Announced

7 Aug 12, 2022 08:38 PM in Ballon d’Or

Why Pirates Captain Was Substituted...

21 Aug 11, 2022 10:15 AM in Orlando Pirates

Richest EPL Owners Amid Man Utd Takeover Talk

2 Aug 11, 2022 07:26 PM in English Premier League

Rulani: Vila Contributed To Downs’ Downfall

88 Aug 11, 2022 07:35 AM in Mamelodi Sundowns

'I Want To Buy Man Utd'

5 Aug 10, 2022 03:29 PM in Messi/Ronaldo/Neymar/Mbappe Watch

Chiefs 10 Youngest Goalscorers Revealed!

16 Aug 11, 2022 10:59 AM in Kaizer Chiefs

Official: Motsepe Launches CAF African Super League

14 Aug 10, 2022 02:30 PM in African Football

10 Players Who Still Haven't Found New Clubs

2 Aug 10, 2022 12:26 PM in World News

Mphahlele Set To Dazzle The 031 In His Gusheshe

Aug 10, 2022 11:40 AM in Stars & Their Cars

Why Chiefs Target Fits Amakhosi's Immediate Criteria…

31 Aug 10, 2022 08:56 AM in Kaizer Chiefs

Official: Motsepe Launches CAF African Super League

14 Aug 10, 2022 02:30 PM in African Football

Downs & CT City CAF CL Opponents Revealed

39 Aug 09, 2022 05:24 PM in CAF Champions League

Ten Hag Explains Benni Appointment

10 Aug 01, 2022 10:20 AM in English Premier League

Reunion On The Cards For Top Keeper?

1 Aug 10, 2022 05:09 PM in Siyagobhoza